Soul Mates and Soul Contracts

In the midst of a global pandemic, political, public and planetary disruption, my family and I managed to find a pocket of profound peace, love and joy this week when we met our sister we never knew we had. 

A recent DNA test revealed a sister of 47 years abandoned in Vietnam, left behind by my father who took his other three daughters (me included) back to the United States during the fall of Vietnam. My two sisters and I grew up not knowing we had another sister who had been looking for us her entire life. We don’t know if our father knew about her or not but we can’t imagine he would’ve left her behind had he known. You can read my post about it and watch the ABC news story here.  

This week, despite quarantine orders and concerns for Covid-19, we each traveled from four different states with our husbands and kids to one location to meet in person for the first time ever. 

While home, we all comply to the mask and social distancing ordinances, but during our reunion, we could barely comply to one inch distancing as our hearts, souls and bodies collided in a divinely orchestrated homecoming that the writer in me struggles to describe. 

Words fail me as I try to adequately express what happened this week but I’ll do my best to come close.  

 

WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO MEET A SOULMATE

 

Imagine living in the same house for 49 years. You love the house, knowing it inside and out, and have taken great care throughout the decades to keep it clean, functional and thriving, fixing and updating things here and there as they become outdated. Then one day you go into the attic and stumble across a box tucked away in a corner. You’ve never seen this box in all your years of living in this house, nor do you have any idea how it got there, the history of it or what’s inside. But in the same moment that you see the box, a key appears in the lock. You twist the key to unlock it and inside is a part of you, an energetic extension of who you are, that merely by discovering it, makes you more whole than you were moments before. You’ve become more of yourself, fulfilling a potential YOU that might never have been had you not found and opened the box.  

Meeting my sister, Margaret, in person for the first time was like discovering a locked place in my heart that I didn’t know existed but evidently was reserved just for her and could only be found and unlocked by her. When we embraced, a part of me became not only unhidden, but also alive, and I became more than I was before we hugged. 

I expanded.

It felt as if my soul opened wider and the Universe became bigger. I became more of me because of her, and I surprisingly discovered in that box that I’ve known and loved her soul long before I ever knew or met her in person.

When I first met my soulmate partner, Joe, I felt an electrical current run through my body. Even though we were both in different relationships back then, every time I saw him, my lower lip quivered and I could barely speak. It was embarrassing and I didn’t know what to make of it, let alone how to hide it when around him. It was as if being physically near him was too much for my body and it had to shake the energy out through my bottom lip and jaw. Why it couldn’t shake itself out through my foot discreetly where no one could see is beyond me, but instead, it was right there in plain sight on my face where neither of us could deny. 

Despite the intensity and mystery of the electrical pulses, I dismissed them since I was in a happy relationship with someone else, not thinking much about Joe other than when I physically saw him every few months or so and my body did its weird uncontrollable shaking thing. It was only when we were in physical proximity that I reacted that way and paid any attention to it or him. We had met at work and were platonic co-workers in different departments long before we became friends, after both of our relationships ended, and then, finally, partners. 

To this day, my body still shakes sometimes when I see him. 

When I physically hugged Margaret for the first time, a similar electrical pulse ran through me. It wasn’t nearly as intense but it was there, nevertheless, and I felt a warm homecoming, as if we had both arrived home after a long, treacherous journey apart. It was like coming home to a part of me I didn’t know was missing and I felt energy flow through my body. 

Meeting soulmates doesn’t always result in feeling powerful energetic surges. Sometimes there’s a subtle sense of recognition as if you’ve met them before or you feel a connection to them even though you can’t explain it, and sometimes you don’t notice anything different. The extent to which you feel is a combination of how open and present you are in the moment of meeting them along with the depth of your soul contract with them. 

 

WHAT IS A SOULMATE?

 

I believe that soulmates aren’t only romantic partners, but also those we have soul contracts with before we came here to this particular life on earth. It could be a father, mother, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, friend, lover, husband, wife, co-worker, boss, elementary school teacher, anyone we come into contact with who we’ve mutually agreed to:

1) learn from, for any lessons, big or small

and/or 

2) experience life with, for any duration, short or long

 

WHAT IS A SOUL CONTRACT?

 

While it may appear that Margaret and I are two different individuals, separated from one another, each of us having our own varying life experiences, thoughts, feelings, bodies and journeys, the truth is we are all one, and Margaret and I come from the same source, the same divinity and light that you and everyone else also comes from. 

We are extensions of that one source, each person, each soul a part of the one. 

Before we agreed to come to earth to expand and explore, we made soul contracts with those soul extensions to unite and walk parts of our journey together. Some soul contracts are made to help one another learn things we wanted to learn, and grow in ways we wanted to grow, and some are made purely for the joy of experiencing parts of this life together. And sometimes it’s a combination of both. 

Some soulmates cause nothing but pain and torment if we don’t learn from them, while others bring joy and depth into our lives. 

That’s why some soulmates cause you the deepest grief and pain, but also teach you the most profound lessons and create tremendous opportunities for inner growth. These are often family members or romantic partners. My soulmate father was my greatest tormentor and my greatest teacher. Through my journey with him on earth, I learned how to love unconditionally, forgive fiercely and stand powerfully. The day he died, a heavy part of me died too, and I felt a lightness of being, as if a long-standing contract had finally been fulfilled. 

Every soul contract has its own level of difficulty or ease. 

There are soul contracts that are fulfilled in an easy, short or chance encounter, like when you read an author’s words that changes your life, or a high school counselor veers you in a positive direction away from a destructive path you almost took, or when your first boss sticks her neck out to give you a job despite your lack of experience. Neither of you have any idea why she believes in you after only meeting you once for a few minutes, but she “just has a gut feeling” about you or sees something in you that others don’t. 

And there are soul contracts that take a lifetime until they’re fulfilled, if ever, depending on your willingness to learn the lesson and the depth of your karmic relationship together.

 

SPIRITUAL TETHERS

 

We are spiritually tethered to those we have open soul contracts with. 

If you’ve ever been in a toxic relationship with someone and have long since broken up but find it nearly impossible to let them go (or they won’t let you go), even though the relationship was unhealthy in every way, and there’s something binding you to them like a child or a financial or legal obligation, or even your thoughts and emotions, this is usually because you haven’t yet fulfilled your soul contract with them. Despite your attempts to move on and live your life in peace, the tether binds you together energetically. If they’re physically out of your life, you may still find it difficult to undo the damage that’s been done emotionally, mentally and spiritually and move forward.

By the way, a sure sign that you still have an unfulfilled soul contract with someone is that you have a manifested contract with them, like a legal agreement in some way, shape or form (financial support, business commitments, shared child custody, etc). The sooner both of you learn the lessons you came here to learn from one another, the sooner the contracts will end, on a spiritual level as well as an earth level. 

But not all contracts were created to end. My soul contracts with my mother and sisters are for a lifetime of learning and enjoying this life journey together. I love being spiritually tethered to them, it helps me feel divinely connected, stronger and more whole. I learn alot about myself through them and we lift each other up when one of us is down. 

I had an inner battle with one of my sisters growing up. I was always in her shadow, people told me I should be more like her, tougher, more vocal and outgoing, and I resented her for it. I was jealous of her and it took me well into my twenties to learn the lessons I came here to learn from her. To not only be confident in myself as I am, and embrace my own sensitive, quiet qualities, but also to be able to see her independent of my perception of her as “the popular sister”. 

She flew from her home in the east coast to visit me in California for a weekend in my twenties, and I spent the entire time resenting her, being angry at everything she said and did, thinking she was putting me down and dismissing me because she felt better than me. But those were my internal issues that I projected outward onto her. It wasn’t until she left and I missed her that I suddenly realized I had been seeing her through my lens of “shy little sister who could never be as good as popular big sister” and everything she said and did was skewed through that filter. 

For the three days that she was with me, I never once saw HER, as a person, outside of my big sister/little sister filter, and I cried for days after she left because I wasted our precious time together stuck in my own past perceptions and stories, and was never fully present and open to her as an individual person outside of me, with her own life, her own struggles and her own journey completely independent of me. In the time after our childhood years, she became a wife and mother, and had her own learning journey, and yet all I could see was a big sister who was always better than me. 

I wrote her a letter and apologized, and from that moment on, every time I see her or any of my family, I remember to be fully present to them, as they are now, not who they were or who I was and not through the lens of any unresolved issues, but to let it all go, and love and enjoy them exactly as each of us are in this moment, because our time together on this earth is short and our tether proves that we made a pact to be together, to walk together and experience this complex, beautiful and brutal life together. 

Our soul mates help us become more of who we are.

Our soul contracts ensure we have the adequate motivation, determination and inspiration to get there, should we choose to honor them. 

When Positive Thinking Becomes Dangerous (Warning: Bloody TreeDoodle)

*Disclaimer: No stick figures were harmed in the making of this TreeDoodle. It’s pretend blood (ketchup) and special effects. 

I used to believe positive thinking was the key to happiness and fulfillment. I even wrote an article in Positive Thinking magazine titled “Act Positive, Become Positive!”

I’ve grown a lot since the article was published in 2005. 

I’m no longer an advocate of thinking or acting in any way contrary to how we’re feeling. Trying to control our thoughts, push away our emotions or deny the present moment is disingenuous. By avoiding or dismissing our true feelings in the here and now, we dishonor ourselves.

I had been doing that for the majority of my life. Because the world told me I was supposed to “smile and be happy” and “don’t be so emotional and sensitive,” and “why are you so depressed, you have nothing to be depressed about,” I quickly discovered that people were uncomfortable around my deep emotions so I needed to “tone it down” and mute myself so others can be more comfortable around me. 

After 40+ years of pretending to be someone I’m not, I finally realized that I was dishonoring myself in the name of “being positive” and fitting in. So now I teach a powerful process of allowing our emotions to flow, fully, openly, as we witness them from the seat of awareness, love and compassion which leads to a more positive mindset that comes naturally and with ease, rather than a willed, forced attempt to “think positive”. 

We’ve all had moments when we were in a slightly bad mood, maybe something didn’t quite go our way and we got a bit cranky or frustrated, and someone reminded us of the good things we have. Sometimes a simple reminder is enough to get back on the positive track, realizing that the negative thing that happened isn’t worth fretting over after all. When this happens, our energy lightens and shifts to a more positive state, and we’re not pretending, denying or pushing away the negative, instead our perspective and understanding expands to a broader vision (to encompass the negative and positive) rather than remaining narrowly focused on the negative only.

In this case, positive thinking is helpful because we weren’t deeply wounded to begin with.

 

“THINK POSITIVE” IS BAD ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL ADVICE

 

Like most axioms, people tend to generalize positive thinking as an all-or-nothing blanket rule to practice in all aspects of our lives all the time. 

Saying to someone who’s struggling with depression and mental illness, “you have to look on the bright side, think positive!” is dismissive and incredibly harmful. 

Telling someone who’s learning a new skill to think positive rather than getting down on themselves for not mastering it yet is helpful. 

Positive thinking is a mental act, a state of mind, that in many cases can shift one’s energy toward a healthier, happier state of being and living. But sometimes, taking positive physical action toward the thing you want and confronting your negative thoughts or emotions results in a more positive state of being naturally, instead of feigning or forcing a positive mental attitude. 

For example, if you’ve been out of work due to the COVID-19 shutdown, it’s more helpful to spend your time looking for a job, updating your resume and working on overcoming your fear and uncertainty with practiced trust and acceptance, or if you can financially afford it, using that spare time as an opportunity to slow down and do things you enjoy, rather than lie around in bed all day for months complaining about being unemployed and desperately willing yourself to look on the bright side.

There’s a time to honor the negative feelings of having lost the job, but those feelings need not last for months, or even days. 

 

THE POWER OF EMOTIONAL CLEARING TO INDUCE POSITIVE THINKING

 

Understanding your emotions as simply energy in motion and learning how to move them through you frees you from days, months and years of bondage to them. Rather than getting stuck in the bad feelings of losing our job and spending the next few months drowning in them, if we allow those unpleasant feelings to flow freely, without resistance, latching on to them or creating stories around them, they’ll come and go quickly, leaving us open to more positive, better feeling energy, and then positive thinking comes naturally as a result, rather than a forced mental concept. 

The problem is that’s where most people get stuck. Not knowing how to flow their energy. And that’s when they try to slap positive thinking on top of limiting beliefs and painful emotion, which then becomes nothing more than a cover-up, a pretense, a temporary feel-good band aid that hides the deeper wound and inhibits its healing. 

If you have negative self-identified stories around being unemployed, whether they’re old stories from the past or new ones, you create deeper wounds that need more than positive thinking to overcome it. Perhaps your dad lost his job when you were a kid and you saw the family well-being go downhill after that, with your parents fighting all the time or not being able to have the nice things your friends had, for example. Maybe you equate being unemployed with being a loser, lazy, rejected, deadbeat, not valued, useless, etc. Maybe you see it as a reflection of your worth. Whatever stories you’ve created around being unemployed, your emotions will mirror your belief in those stories. 

Some people are unemployed and feel incredibly free and grateful for the extra time to work on fulfilling their dreams. They have different stories about being unemployed. 

It goes deeper than merely positive thinking from a mental level, it’s rooted in our beliefs about things such as unemployment and about ourselves inherently, which causes us to feel good or bad about it. 

 

THE HARM AND DANGER OF POSITIVE THINKING

 

Trying to force yourself to think positive when you have deep rooted beliefs and stuck, unresolved energy only causes you to feel worse about yourself. You start wondering if there’s something wrong with you, why everyone else seems to be able to “get it” except you, and you feel weak, unspiritual, unevolved, broken or otherwise not good enough or even deserving enough. It causes a downward spiral that makes it worse than before you tried to think positive, and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that holds you captive in your negative loop. 

This is when positive thinking becomes harmful and dangerous. It not only avoids the real cause of your unhappiness, the unresolved wound, it also veers you further away from healing it. 

There’s a famous saying, “In order to heal, you must feel.” 

I like to say, “In order to heal, you must flow.” 

I know, it doesn’t sound as poetic as the rhyming version but how about this:

In order to let go, you must flow. 

Better?

If we want to let go of anything (beliefs, thoughts, emotions), we can’t resist them. Resisting and pushing them away only makes them stronger and binds them to us merely by the magnetic energy of resistance. If emotions are energy in motion, they need to be in motion, not tucked away, shoved aside or locked up in the corner of our hearts because it’s too painful to deal with. 

Some people hold on to their painful stories and emotions unconsciously because they’re so accustomed to thinking and feeling that way, they don’t know who they are without it. To them, it’s better to feel bad than to face the uncertainty of having no identity.

HOW TO MOVE NEGATIVE OR DENSE ENERGY THROUGH YOU

 

Beliefs, thoughts and emotions are all energy. We create thought-forms with our consistent, tightly held beliefs and those thought-forms create their own thought-forms and we carry them throughout our lives, stacking up old thought-forms on top of new thought-forms and before we know it, we feel trapped and suffocated because there are so many thought-forms weighing on us heavily. This is the same with our emotions.

And we wonder why we consistently feel so bad, even when things are good, and why we can’t just flip a switch and “think positive” like other people we know. It’s because they’re not carrying around so many dense energy-forms. 

We quite literally have a dark cloud hanging over us, following us around. From an energetic level, this dark cloud is the dense energy created from negative thought and emotion forms. 

So how do we let go?

We let go by letting them flow. 

We don’t try to cover them up under the pretense of positive thinking. We don’t try to push them away or deny them. We don’t smile when we feel like crying. We don’t look on the bright side when our wounds are raw and bleeding. We don’t try to think or be or do anything other than who we are in this moment. 

If who we are in this moment is a self-pitying, bubbling mess, we allow the thoughts and feelings to flow through us without latching on to them or resisting them. We LET ourselves be a self-pitying, bubbling mess. We witness ourselves unfolding, releasing, crying, screaming, whatever it is we’re feeling, and we breathe into it with compassion, love and acceptance.

If we’re not feeling particularly compassionate, loving or accepting of ourselves, we breathe into that too and allow it to flow. We continue to flow whatever it is we’re feeling, no matter what it is.

It’s the flowing and the releasing, with complete allowing, that heals the wound. Acceptance is cleansing. 

 

THREE TIPS TO HELP YOU RELEASE NEGATIVE THOUGHT & EMOTION

1. Set a meditation cushion, yoga mat, pillow, towel or something similar in a quiet space in your home. Could be a closet, a corner of a bedroom, the bathtub. Whatever space that you can energetically clear as a “safe space” where you can feel safe to flow your emotions. Designate this spot a “no judgement zone” where even if you’re judging yourself, you’re gently reminded to let the judgment go. So any thoughts and emotions can be free to fully flow through you, no matter what they are, positive or negative.

The intention isn’t to change, fix or manipulate our feelings to more positive feelings. The intention is to simply LET whatever feelings we feel flow so that they can pass through unobstructed by our resistance.

 

2. Write your thoughts out in a journal or piece of paper. Thoughts, like emotions, need to flow too. When you write, they don’t remain stuck in your mind floating around endlessly repeating themselves over and over, they flow from your mind through your body and onto a piece of paper outside of you. In this way, they lose some of their power over you because they’re no longer held captive inside you. 

Take your worst thoughts that you’d never admit to anyone and express them onto the paper freely, openly. Often, we push away thoughts because they’re unkind or unspiritual and we judge ourselves for being awful to even think them, but when we deny them, they turn into thought-forms that linger around. (This is why we keep repeating the same thoughts over and over and over day after day year after year, by the way.) Writing them out releases them to be free to move along, away from us, and dissipate. (Or be latched onto by another similarly vibrating passing thought-form of someone else. But that’s another article for another time!) If it makes you feel safer, rip it up and throw it away when you’re done.

 

3. If the thoughts and emotions are overpowering and don’t allow you to sit still or quiet your racing mind, use your body to help them flow through you. Whether it’s dancing around your house, jumping up and down, shaking your arms or jogging in place, the intention is to get your body physically moving for a few moments so that the frenetic energy inside you can be released. You can also vocalize it by making noises, sighing consciously and using your vocal chords as an avenue of their escape. It doesn’t take long, a few minutes of jiggling about and making nonsensical grunts does wonders to release the pent up energy inside you.

 

Like the fallacy of the “one-size-fits-all” advice to think positive, these tips aren’t “done-once-then-healed”. It takes time to release old, stuck energy, especially if the wounds are deep. 

It took us a lifetime to stack one unfaced emotion on top of another and another and another. It won’t go away with one try. Sometimes we get lucky and release a heavy load in one session but often it’s a day to day, moment to moment practice of releasing and allowing, releasing and allowing, each time painful thoughts and emotions surface. 

It takes consistent practice until one day it becomes a habit. And eventually that habit turns into our way of being, everyday, and we can walk around the majority of the time BEING positive instead of tediously trying to will ourselves to think positive.

Knowing where you are on your empathic and emotional journey can help you so you don’t waste your time on advice or techniques that will only make things worse for you, spiraling you down even further into the pit of self-doubt and pain unnecessarily. For Alchemists, the reminder to think positive typically works in most situations since their state of being is one of positivity and joy. For Identifiers who are still struggling to release deep painful emotions, the reminder to think positive can do more harm than good. Click here to see which of the four stages you’re in so you can better understand what works for you and what doesn’t. 

Are You Taking on the Suffering of the World?

Hopeless. Discouraged. Helpless. 

These are the words my clients, students and readers are using to describe how they feel recently. Also,

“Terrified to my bones.”

“Suffocating, heavy and exhausted.”

“Waves of deep sadness arising out of nowhere.”

One thing I’ve learned in all my years of suffering and then, finally clawing my way out of it and living on the other side, is that there’s only ONE cause of suffering. 

It’s not other people doing ignorant, cruel or destructive things.

It’s not viruses, diseases or pandemics.

It’s not crooked politicians, government or bureaucracy.

It’s not racial, economic or civic unrest. 

It’s not anything that happened in the past or anything that might happen in the future.

It’s not even that you’re an empath and you absorb the world’s feelings and emotions.

These are all signposts pointing to the cause, but they’re not the cause.

You’re not suffering because you’re feeling the suffering of others, or any of the above, you’re suffering because you’re identifying with the suffering. 

 

THE ROOT OF ALL SUFFERING

 

The root of all suffering is identifying with ego rather than soul. 

Souls do not suffer, humans do. Souls do not have egos, humans do. 

When our egos are active, we become fearful. We worry about the state of the world. How can we not when the world is in total chaos? We hear the news, listen to people and see immense divisiveness and polarization happening in every country, not just America or wherever we reside, but around the entire globe. We’re bombarded with an overload of conflicting information that reinforces separation, blame and hostility among our human brothers and sisters.

If you wear a mask, you’re being brainwashed into believing the hoax and need to think for yourself. If you don’t wear a mask, you’re being selfish and putting other people’s lives in jeopardy. If you support a political leader, no matter who it is, the “other side” will accuse you of being closed minded and part of the problem in the downfall of our country. If you remain silent, you don’t truly value equal rights or else you’d speak up about it. If you speak up, you’ll inadvertently say something insensitive and hurtful that can do more harm than good. 

The world feels like it’s in a state of complete disruption, division and disconnection, which leads us individually to feel alone, small and weak. 

And human. 

But humans are nothing more than souls cloaked in skin, flesh and bone.

The problem is we’ve forgotten who we really are, we’ve mistaken the cloak for ourselves. 

 

THE END OF SUFFERING

 

When we realize the cloak is merely a disguise that the ego keeps alive, we can remove the cloak as easily as we remove a sweater and let the thoughts, stories and emotions of our egos drop into the background, bringing our soul into the forefront of our experience. 

We plug in to a bigger whole, one of unity, wisdom and power and become still and peaceful. And we recognize all that is happening in this world as divinely orchestrated, a necessary step in our evolution and a spiritual process of ascension. 

It doesn’t mean we don’t hurt. 

It doesn’t mean we don’t have problems.

It doesn’t mean we don’t feel the pain of others. 

It simply means we don’t identify with any of those conditions. The emotions may come and go like waves as we allow them to ebb and flow freely, remaining centered in the awareness of our soul.

Without identifying with the emotion, resisting, judging or dramatizing it, we cease to suffer. 

Without identifying with our own problems, we cease to suffer.

Without identifying with the world’s problems, we cease to suffer. 

Problems still come and go, just like emotions, but they’re not a part of our identity anymore. We don’t make them about who we are or who anyone else is or what the world is about.  

There is a life happening through you, and maybe your cloak wants to judge that life as painful and hard, but nevertheless, it’s not who you are. 

You’re a soul witnessing the experience of that life through a human form. 

When you identify with the drama, struggles and pain of that life and make it a part of who you are, you suffer.  

The difference between suffering and not suffering is knowing who you really are.

Even if you feel and absorb the suffering of the world as an empath, it doesn’t mean you have to suffer along with it. You can feel suffering without being suffering. 

You are the one who feels, not the feeling itself. 

To get more in touch with the soul, we must make room for it in our lives. When we spend most of our time and energy focused on what’s happening in the outside world, we leave no room for our Intuition, Inner Wisdom and Spirit. Getting back in touch with our essential nature consistently is key to end suffering and it only requires simple actions. 

We tend to want to make it more complicated than necessary because life has taught us that the things worth gaining are hard to get, but our soul is not something to be achieved, it’s already here. We already ARE souls. We don’t have to “get” anything, we need only BE. And often that means dropping all the layers of the cloak (worry, stress, incessant thoughts, fear, etc) long enough to tap in to what’s underneath. 

Many of us have glimpses of spiritual moments here and there, but if we want long-term permanent transformation in our lives, it has to become a daily reality. We must live more from a soul-perspective than an ego-perspective. We must tip the scale from human-based living to soul-based living.  

To do this, we can’t just think our way into soulful living, we must also act our way into it. 

 

Five simple ways to get in touch with your inner being 

 

Do any one of these daily, or better yet, do them all every day. 

    1. Spend time in nature. Let the wisdom of the trees, birds, sky and earth inform you. 
    2. Read spiritual literature or writing that helps you connect to a greater sense of awareness. (I read a Rumi quote every morning. His poetry resonates profoundly with me and immediately sinks me deeper into beingness)
    3. Write in a journal, directing your thoughts to a higher presence, as if you were writing letters to God, Soul, Divinity, whatever it is to you. This helps you build a conscious relationship with Grace and activate it in your daily life.
    4. Meditate. If sitting quietly isn’t your thing, practice active meditation, which is being mindful while doing an activity. It could be a task as ordinary as taking a shower. Instead of letting your thoughts go rampant, mulling over your to-do list for the day or rehashing a difficult conversation from the previous day, focus your awareness into the present moment, paying attention to the water as it falls on your body, the sound, feel and sight of it. Let all thoughts drop away, becoming quiet and still in the now.  
    5. Listen to music that awakens something deeper in you. Some of my favorites are Lisa Gerrard, Enya, Loreena McKennitt and Hillsong (worship). Find yours, whatever moves you deeply, and allow yourself to get lost in it. 

You might read this list and think, “yea, yea, yea, I know all this, it doesn’t work for me.” Before you dismiss the list, I urge you to consider that as a thought of the cloak, the ego, and move through it. Don’t stop at the thought and let it keep you in suffering. If you do, you’ll only keep searching the internet, consuming more information, hoping and praying for something else, something better, something bigger that will finally click, that will help you, that will set you free once and for all after all these years. 

How long have you been searching, waiting, praying desperately for that one answer? How many articles have you read, books have you purchased, courses have you taken, coaches have you paid? 

Consider that this constant searching, constant yearning, constant state of wanting-to-find-that-one-answer-that-will-change-everything-but-not-ever-finding-it is part of the cloak’s grip on you, to keep you lost, to keep you distracted, to keep you in a constant state of longing so that you can’t be still long enough to actually find the answer within you.

Our cloaks tell us it can’t be that simple, that we have to do some ancestral energetic healing deep in a forest in the middle of nowhere with a wild shaman, or a series of 10 chakra cleansing rituals over 10 weeks, or a year long vow of silence and liquid detox fast until our bodies release all its toxins, or pay thousands of dollars for a coach and healer. And when one of those doesn’t work, our cloak tells us it just wasn’t the right thing for us, that it’s just a matter of finding the right thing, and here we go again, forever stuck in that never-ending loop of searching-but-not-finding. 

All the while, the ego sits back and smiles, your plan to break free from its grip once again foiled.  

No, none of that is necessary. It’s only necessary because you’re believing the cloak’s lies that it’s necessary.

Instead of doing all that… instead of paying someone like me… go outside and sit under a tree.  

It’s free. It works. It’s easy.

 

ABOUT HIRING AN EXPERT TO HELP YOU END YOUR SUFFERING

 

There are coaches, healers and experts who will tell you you need their fancy techniques and methods, you need their help to get better, you need something “more, better, bigger, different” to finally see change. If you’re in the mindset that that’s true, then yes, they probably can help you. 

But you can eliminate that mindset and end your suffering without their help (or mine). You don’t need them. You don’t need me. You don’t need another article, book, course or podcast episode. 

You need only BE STILL and start listening to your own inner guidance. You have the best expert available – for free – inside you, available to you even outside of “normal business hours”. 

Tune in to your own intuition and heal yourself. 

Start by getting quiet, doing one or all of the five things listed above, every day. 

Keep it simple. The more simple you keep it, the easier it will be to remain committed and consistent with it, doing it every day until it becomes a habit and you can’t not do it. 

One problem I’ve found with coaching is that clients do the exercises, make improvements and feel better while they’re being coached, but as soon as the coaching sessions end, they revert right back to their old habits and ways. Their life has improved regardless because their energy has shifted, but other problems tend to arise that repeats similar patterns.

It’s the same as hiring a personal fitness trainer. You’ll do the workout for that hour once a day or week while they’re there, guiding you, holding you accountable. But after your package ends, will you still be working out six months later? 

I’ve personally shifted my entire coaching structure around to ensure this doesn’t happen with my client, but if you learn how to tune in to your own inner coach, you’ll never have to worry about losing momentum, seeking outside yourself for answers, or getting lost in ego again. 

If you want to stop suffering, start souling. 

Your soul has all the answers, all the wisdom and resources to end your suffering. 

Tune into it.

It’s possible for you to remain calm and peaceful no matter what you’re feeling, including other people’s suffering or your own. Shift your perspective from the feeling to the feeler, from the ego to the soul witnessing the ego.

How to Set Boundaries When You’re An Empath or Highly Sensitive

A client called me last week in a panic. 

Her voice was shaky and she was crying, sputtering words between short, labored breaths, all the while keeping her voice low as if someone were in the room that she didn’t want overhearing.

After confirming her life wasn’t in danger and her health was okay, I managed to calm her down with some intentional breathing, long enough for her to tell me what happened. 

Externally, nothing extraordinary happened. 

She was home with her husband and 3 kids, ranging in age from 6 to 10. It was a typical Thursday, like any other day in the last 5 months of the world’s new stay-at-home normalcy. The kids were being kids doing kid things around the house and the husband was being a husband doing husband things around the house. 

And she was in a back corner of the dark basement, in the narrow closet that holds the water heater, whisper-crying to me on the phone. She didn’t even turn on the basement light for fear of being found, and had used her phone’s light to find her way there. 

It was all just too much.

Too much noise. Too much talking. Too much energy.

Too much “Mom, what’s wrong with the wi-fi? Mom, I’m bored. Mom, Eden hit me.” 

Too much “Honey, have you seen my workout shorts? Honey, come see this funny video on Facebook. Honey, what’s for dinner?”

Too much everyone else, not enough HER. 

She had been in the home office answering work emails when her 6-year-old daughter came in looking for a pencil. That was the last interruption she could handle, and in a moment of complete and total overwhelm, instead of snapping at her family (which is what she felt like doing), she ran to the only place in the house that didn’t have people, and people’s energy, and where people and people’s energy wouldn’t look to find her. 

Squeezed in the 2 foot gap between the unpainted drywall and the water heater, standing barefoot on the cold concrete floor, feeling the grit of dirt beneath her feet, she found her moment of quiet. 

A moment of ME. 

Not mom. Not honey. Not you. 

Not anyone else but ME. 

 

Unhealthy Boundaries

 

My basement-hiding client, let’s call her Kaitlyn (not her real name), has graciously agreed to let me share her story openly to help others who might recognize themselves in her. In fact, if you’re reading this post from inside a dark closet (or wish you were), this was written especially for you.

We’ve been working on setting healthy boundaries. Empaths and sensitive souls who have not yet learned their own worth and value have an extremely hard time setting, and sticking to, boundaries. If you’re in the first two stages of your empathic awakening, this is likely how you feel about boundary setting:

When I try to set boundaries, I feel:

  • Incredibly guilty
  • Selfish
  • Bad for putting my own needs ahead of others
  • Like I’m hurting someone else’s feelings when I say “no”
  • Ashamed
  • Like a bitch
  • Mean
  • Uncaring

This is how Kaitlyn feels when she sets a boundary with her family. On top of that, she also feels like a bad mom and wife. After all, isn’t she supposed to tend to her children’s needs? Isn’t that what good mothers do? And isn’t she supposed to be attentive to her husband’s needs? Isn’t that what good wives do?

Kaitlyn feels that if she tells her family she needs space, they might take it personally. She then starts ruminating and tells herself that she hurt their feelings, that they think she doesn’t care about them, or that there’s something wrong with them that she doesn’t want to be with them. 

Whether they’re actually disappointed or not, she’ll either feel their disappointment or will project a feeling of disappointment onto them, and take it in as her own, becoming disappointed in herself for being uncaring and selfish. 

And she’ll do what most empaths and sensitive people do when they haven’t yet learned to set healthy boundaries…

She’ll give in to her guilt and break her own boundary. 

And because of this, she’ll end up feeling resentful toward them and disappointed or even mad at herself for not being “strong enough” to stick to it. 

This is an example of unhealthy boundary setting:

Setting boundaries is even more difficult for an empath and sensitive soul because we can actually FEEL what the other person is feeling. We can see it in their eyes, and looking into a child’s or loved one’s disappointed eyes is heartbreaking for many of us.

If they truly are disappointed (vs us projecting disappointment onto them), we take their disappointment into our beings and then we become disappointed too. Not just disappointed because we feel like we disappointed them, but now we’ve added their disappointment to our energy. It’s a double whammy for us. 

And that’s why it’s so hard to not only set the boundary (because we want to avoid all those bad feelings) but also to stick to it (because when we start to feel those bad feelings, we want to make them go away). 

In Kaitlyn’s situation, her family isn’t used to her asserting her needs. Over the years, they’ve developed a familial status quo of mom always being available at any given moment. They’ve unconsciously carved out a groove in the habitual functioning of the family and any attempt to climb out of that groove and carve another disrupts the way the family functions. 

For some families, it’s not a big deal, they learn to adapt to a new groove and become a better, stronger and happier unit because of it. 

For others, it’s more difficult and takes more time to get used to. Not only for the one carving the new groove but also for everyone else who’s affected by it.

 

Healthy Boundaries

 

When Kaitlyn learns to set healthy boundaries, it will look like this:

As in the image above, the guilt may or may not be gone. But the more you do it, the less the guilt controls you and eventually, it’ll go away. When we go back on a boundary we’ve set, it’s typically because we gave in to the guilt, disappointment and any other bad feelings we felt when stating it. 

One way to help you through the negative feelings of setting your boundary, so that you can stick to it, is to focus on the positive outcome it has and give in to those positive feelings instead. 

You may be wondering about these positive feelings since it may not feel positive at first, especially if others around you don’t like your boundaries and push against them or outright walk over them. 

Here are some deeper, positive truths to take in and remember on your boundary setting journey.

 

We’re not responsible for other people’s feelings.

Many empaths feel responsible for other people’s feelings. Because of our compassionate nature, we have a tendency to want to “fix” things for others, make it better for them. Since we also take on people’s pain, it hurts us to see others hurt, so we instinctively want to help, either by taking away their pain (and hence, ours) or easing it. 

But this is an unhealthy response and in fact, when we try to take responsibility for someone else’s feelings, we take away their power and turn them into a victim. We do them a disservice rather than truly helping them. 

We might ease their pain in that one moment, and they’ll feel better, and we’ll feel good about ourselves that we could help, but it doesn’t stop in one moment. It becomes a string of moments over a long period of time. And the more we “help” them in each moment by “making it better for them,” the more we condition them to depend on us each time they feel hurt, and the more we keep them stuck in dependency on us. Over a period of time, both people become resentful, one for being so needy, the other for being so needed. We carve out a habitual co-dependent groove in our relationship with them, and it’s hard to get out of that groove.   

The healthy response is to support them in meeting their own deeper needs. The surface need is to feel better in the moment. The deeper need is to find their own inner strength and emotional resiliency within themselves. This is how you truly help someone for life, by serving the deeper need, which is permanent, instead of the surface need, which is temporary. Rather than taking responsibility for their feelings, we can empower them to take responsibility for their own feelings. 

When you set a healthy boundary, you’re not only supporting yourself in meeting your own needs, you’re also supporting the other person in meeting their deeper need. You’re empowering both of you (whether they agree with you or not).

 

We’re helping everyone by setting healthy boundaries.

While others might not like our boundaries, when we don’t set them, we become a doormat for anyone to wipe their needs all over us, expecting us to clean up the dirt. It’s not their fault, we teach them it’s okay to treat us this way. They not only lose respect for us, but they also lose self-respect since no self-respecting person would treat another disrespectfully.

After a while, our energy drains, we become exhausted, resentful and taken advantage of. We carry this feeling inside us and bite our tongues every time someone asks something of us or unintentionally invades our space. We cuss under our breath and we do what they want with a smile sewn on our faces because we’re avoiding all the bad feelings that will come up if we speak up.

With our own needs largely unmet, one unspoken, frustrating moment piles upon another and another and another, and before we know it, our daughter asks us for a pencil and we hightail it to our basement closet.

As I teach in all my work, emotions are nothing more than energy in motion. 

When energy doesn’t move through us (because we’re biting our tongue, holding things in), it becomes stuck in us, and its desire to flow becomes stronger the longer and harder we try to keep it down. It’s like holding your emotion prisoner. It WILL escape at some point. Until then, it chips away at our peace and joy, like a prisoner chipping away at their prison wall, piece by piece, month after month, year after year, relentlessly, until freedom is found. 

Emotion HAS TO move through us. We can keep holding it down, using all our might every day all day (ever wonder why you’re so exhausted??) but eventually, it WILL move through. More often, it happens when we least expect it. 

Like when our daughter asks for a pencil and suddenly all hell breaks loose. 

When we set consistent healthy boundaries, resentment, exhaustion and emotional martyrdom doesn’t pile up. Nothing explodes because there was nothing trapped. The people in our lives are not forced to witness the storm, we’re not forced to clean up the aftermath and everything remains on a steady even keel. 

More so, when your needs are consistently unmet, you typically turn to other people to get them met, and you’re putting those people into an unhealthy groove with you, perpetuating the vicious cycle with them, as they too likely feel guilty if they don’t help. 

When you set a healthy boundary, you’re breaking the cycle of unhealthy relationship patterns and teaching others to not only treat you with respect but also have some self-respect themselves. You’re also creating a safe and happy place for your loved ones by not putting them in the wrath of a potential storm from your trapped energy. You can be more present with them and genuinely enjoy your time with them, rather than counting the moments they’re interrupting you or asking you for something.

 

Guilt does not mean you’re doing something wrong.

The Oxford dictionary defines guilt as “the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime.” It’s no wonder many of us equate guilt with doing something wrong, it’s the literal definition of it. 

So if setting boundaries is right, why does it feel wrong and why does guilt overcome you?

Because there are other, deeper beliefs at play, hidden under the surface, causing the feeling of guilt. 

Beliefs, both conscious and unconscious, such as:

  • When I don’t put others first, I’m being selfish and only thinking about me
  • I’m a bad mom (insert your own label) if I don’t care for the needs of my child (insert other person’s label)
  • Putting their needs before my own is the kind, compassionate thing to do
  • If I don’t give them what they need, I’m uncaring
  • I’m responsible for their comfort and happiness
  • I don’t deserve to have my needs met
  • Who am I to ask for what I want?
  • I can handle disappointment, they can’t, so I’ll give them what they want and suck it up
  • I don’t want to seem demanding or worse, bitchy
  • They’ll think I’m stuck-up, self-serving and entitled
  • I should be able to handle my energy better, it’s not their fault I need more space

The guilt you feel when setting a boundary is not because the boundary itself is wrong, it’s because of all the deeper, limiting beliefs you have that tell you it’s wrong. 

You don’t have to believe every belief you have. 

And even more importantly, as an empath and sensitive soul, you don’t have to believe every feeling you have. 

Many of our feelings arise due to our unconscious and limiting beliefs about ourselves and life. But feelings don’t lie. Beliefs lie. Feelings will follow and support any belief you hold, whether that belief is true or false. 

That’s why it’s important not to question the feeling, but to question the belief which caused the feeling. It’s only then that we come to the truth of things. 

Guilt does not necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong, it could mean that you only BELIEVE you’re doing something wrong. 

 

How to set healthy boundaries

 

Learning how to set healthy boundaries is a practice, like developing any physical muscle, it’s a matter of doing it consistently over a period of time. 

Unfortunately, or fortunately, no one can do it for you. Kaitlyn said half-jokingly, “can’t you just call my husband and kids and tell them I need my own space and explain it to them?” I can, but it will rob her of the strength and confidence she’d gain by doing it herself. And it will weaken her position in the eyes of her husband and kids so that when she does set a boundary on her own, they won’t take it seriously. 

In the same way that sitting around and talking about exercising (or hiring a coach to sit around and talk about exercising with you) isn’t going to develop your body’s muscles, consuming more information about setting boundaries (like reading this article) isn’t going to develop your boundary setting muscles. 

Knowing more can certainly help inform you when you start, but:

You actually have to start setting boundaries. And sticking to them.

Knowledge is valuable but action is transformative. 

I gave Kaitlyn three action steps to be completed prior to our next call. 

 

1. Start with a small boundary and state it to your loved ones.  

If it’s space you need, start with 5-10 minutes a day, whatever feels reasonably doable to you, even if it’s uncomfortable. 

You can’t start out lifting 100 pound weights, you’ll get hurt or discouraged and never try again. Start with a 10 pound weight (or whatever you can manage in the moment) and work your way up consistently as you build strength. 

When you start with a small boundary, something that’s not too upsetting or disruptive to the family’s pattern, you not only build your own boundary muscles so that you can set bigger boundaries later, you also teach your loved ones to get accustomed to you fulfilling your own needs and them fulfilling theirs. After you’ve built up your boundary muscles, you’ll have more confidence and strength to set a bigger boundary and it won’t seem so scary or feel so bad. And your loved ones will be more prepared for it, even if they still don’t like it. 

2. Stick to the boundary no matter how bad you feel.

Just like weight lifting, it’s going to feel sore after using muscles you haven’t used before. You’ll feel guilty, wrong, disappointed and all around like a bad person. Your loved one might even reflect those feelings back to you by calling you selfish or getting angry with you.

Manage those expectations by knowing that’s how you’ll likely feel the first and possibly the next 20 times. Instead of giving in to those unpleasant feelings, remind yourself they’re the result of false beliefs and turn your focus toward the positive outcomes of boundary setting, which include less stress, resentment and frustration, more confidence, inner strength and respect as well as better, healthier relationships.  

Visually step forward into a future where your loved ones are happy, healthy and independent, and where everyone is respectful of everyone else’s needs, including you of your own.

3. Praise yourself for finally doing it.

For those of us who aren’t used to speaking up for ourselves, expressing our own needs or saying “no”, this is a big deal! It takes a lot of courage to finally do it and then to stick to it! Good for you! This might seem like one small step for mankind but it’s one giant leap for YOU! You did it!

Reward yourself for taking that step, as small as it seems and as bad it feels. The doing of it is reward enough, but considering it still probably feels pretty bad and unrewarding at first, acknowledge yourself for stepping over the hardest hurdle and taking that first step. 

It only gets easier and easier from this point forward.

When Everyone Else Seems Happy Except You

Following my appearance and interview on ABC, a friend I haven’t heard from in years sent me this facebook message:

Before we get into happiness, it’s important to know two things about me:

    1. As a professional writer for major media outlets, I know how to craft a story that people want to read.
    2. As a professional life coach and spiritual teacher, I know how to hone in on the details of a story that people need to face.

One story, two completely different angles.

In a time of relentlessly ongoing bad news slopped on top of each other like instant mashed potatoes on a prison food tray, people WANT to hear the inspiring story about my long-lost sister finally finding her family after 47 years, who immediately welcomed her with open hearts. This is the part of the story people want to hear. It feels good, it’s inspiring and it’s true. 

But what about the other part of the story? The part that I and the rest of my family members need to face. This is the part of the story people don’t want to hear. The part where we talk about infidelity, sins of the father, child abandonment and crimes of the heart committed during war and beyond. You don’t see me posting about this part of the story on Facebook. 

Why? Because Facebook is the highlight reel. It’s to show the fun and interesting snippets of our lives that people can scroll through quickly with a numb, checked out mind. The deep, personal, painful stuff… that’s not for social media, not for the mass public, not for anyone to know about except who you choose to tell.  

If social media is the highlight reel, then life is the movie. The whole movie, including the parts you want to hear, don’t want to hear, need to face and don’t want to face.

 

When we compare our life’s movie to someone else’s highlight reel, it’s inevitable that we’ll fall short of matching their happiness.

 

This causes us to feel bad about ourselves, unworthy, undeserving, wrong, broken, flawed, like we just can’t get it right, and on and on. 

After all, if everyone else seems so happy, why can’t I be too? 

Comparing your private life to someone else’s public highlight reel is a recipe for unhappiness.

My friend who Facebook messaged me is only seeing my highlight reel. She’s seeing the stories I tell that people want to hear, which is how she came to the conclusion that I “seem so happy”. 

If she subscribed to my email list or read my blog, she’d see the stories that are a bit more painful to tell, the ones that require deep self-reflection and the facing of internal demons. 

If she was yet in my smaller circle of close friends and family, she’d see the private, shadow parts of the stories that the public never gets to see.

But my friend isn’t wrong. 

I am truly happy now. 

AND I have challenges and struggles.

 

Happiness isn’t an absence of problems or challenges.

 

Being happy means not identifying with your problems or challenges. They are a part of your life but they don’t make up your identity. WHO YOU ARE is separate from the challenges you have, they don’t define you. 

And thus, that’s how to be truly happy in a world filled with internal and external struggles. 

The “highlight reel” kind of happy is a fleeting surface emotion. It comes and goes as quickly as the highlight reel runs its course. Too often, we chase this kind of happiness because it’s more prevalent in our faces, in our social media feeds, and seems easier to attain, since after all, so many others seem so happy. 

But, to be brave enough to take in the whole story, the dark parts as well as the light parts, and face life in its fullness knowing that WHO YOU ARE has nothing to do with how you’re feeling or what you’re struggling with…  this is true, lasting happiness. 

 

WHO YOU ARE is a soul having a human experience. 

 

When you know who you are, you can transcend your struggles while dealing with them. In other words, you hold the struggles outside of you, apart from your identity, and you let go of all self-labeling thoughts of unworthiness, undeserving, not-good-enough, etc and you face the problem straight on, untarnished and unburdened with superfluous negative thoughts, beliefs and ideas about yourself. 

In this way, you don’t get lost in your struggles and allow them to carry you away. You remain grounded, strong and centered, giving you a more powerful foundation upon which to deal with them.

The next time you catch yourself feeling down because everyone else seems happy except you, remember that you’re only seeing part of their story, just the parts they want you to see. And that they too, like all of us, have parts that they need to face behind closed doors in their private moments.  

To be truly and deeply happy, we must embrace our whole story – the darkness and the light – and courageously work through our challenges with the knowledge that we are loved, good and worthy, no matter what our struggles.  

When the world is too much…

Lately, I’ve been stumbling forward like a zombie in an emotional daze. It’s just one big hit right after another.

My man and I recently had our hearts crushed due to a family member’s choices and actions. It felt like someone we love reached deep within our soul and ripped our hearts out with jagged claws – the very hearts we’d willingly sacrifice for this person’s life. What was once inconceivable became a harsh reality and it sent us spiraling into a dark pit of shock, anger and hurt. 

But we experienced it together, both the swift descent into heartbreak as well as the gradual rise into healing. Together. We discovered what we already knew but is always a good reminder, that together, we can make it through anything. If we can cry together, we can laugh together again, once the crying season is over. 

This year has felt like one long crying season. Good cries and painful ones. It’s a time of extremes, of cleansing and purification. A time to peel away the layers of illusion – what we once believed was real – and see, know and feel in a different, deeper way. 

It’s our time to wake up.

 

But first, we must stumble our way through the sleepy darkness. 

 

Before a new season of birth and renewed life, the old must wither away. And often, this dropping away of layers, this shedding of familiar but decaying ways, leaves us feeling emotionally raw, exposed and hyper-sensitive. 

During difficult times, I turn to God. We work on my challenges together. Knowing that I’m never alone, no matter who’s in my life or not, I gently remind myself that I’m a soul living a human experience and while the human heart bleeds, the soul remains unharmed. The soul resides with God. And I begin my witnessing process, stepping back into the seat of the soul, observing all that unfolds before me.

I do my best to honor that which flows through me, including the painful emotions, and more so, I do my best to honor my greatest teachers, those whose human claws sink the deepest. 

But despite my knowledge of the transcendent and awareness of the spiritual, sometimes the heaviness of my earth wounds gets the best of me and my egoic mind spins non-stop, reliving the painful experience, replaying its old stories, and making up new ones, none of which come from the center of love, presence or honor. And so, after a sleepless mind-chattering night and a morning that started with a desperate text to my two sisters pleading for one of them to call me (my sisters always provide a loving ear, truthful advice and emotional support), I asked God to please help me take my mind off the situation.

 

The Universe works in powerful ways.

 

That evening, I found out I have a long lost sister. The next morning, she reached out to me. 

While my two older sisters and I are just now finding out we have another sister, our newly-found sister has been searching for her family for 40+ years. 

Born in Vietnam in the early 70’s, when she was a few hours old, her Vietnamese mother knocked on a random house door and a woman answered. Neither of the women had met before. The young mother handed her baby over to the woman who took the baby and raised it as her own. She was told very little except that the father was white and she couldn’t take care of it.

Two days after our virtual sisters reunion, we were interviewed by ABC to tell our story. You can watch it below.

It turns out we share the same father and she’s younger than me, which means, I have a little sister! I’ve always been the little sister, but now I get to be a big sister! 

It also means my father had a tryst with another woman while married to my mom and that woman had his baby.

With all the excitement also comes many questions. Did my mom know the extent of my dad’s transgressions? How will she handle this news? Did our dad know he had another child? And if so, how could he leave her behind? 

That last question haunts me and I’ve been struggling with it all week. While my little sister has been struggling with this question her entire life, it’s a raw, fresh open wound for me and my two older sisters.

 

When the world is too much, find your place of together.

 

My two older sisters and I have been through a lot together in this life. There’s nothing we can’t talk about and we’ve seen each other at our best and worst. It’s in this together place that we’re stronger and better able to handle the world’s “too much-ness”, and it’s in these challenging times that we lean up against each other even more so, to keep one another up. 

Glennon Doyle, NY Times Bestselling Author of Love Warrior and Untamed, introduced me to the term “Sistering”. 

There is a term in carpentry called Sistering.

Sometimes an existing joist, which was designed to handle a certain load, becomes too weak. Maybe it was damaged by water or fire. Maybe it still has structural integrity but an addition is being constructed and the new load is going to be a lot heavier than before. Either way, now it is not as sturdy as it needs to be.

When a builder needs to strengthen that joist, she puts a new member right next to the original one and fastens the two together. Sometimes, two new joists are needed- one on either side.

Do you know what they call that?

A Sister Joist.

And builders use “Sister” as a verb, like, “We need to Sister the joists in the east bay about four feet.” Even better is the nonsensical: “Sistering” as in, “Are they finished Sistering the roof rafters?”

Glennon Doyle

NY Times Bestselling Author

 

Here’s a beautiful video made by the SALT Project folks about “Sistering”:

 

My two sisters and I have leaned on, supported and held each other up for over 4 decades, sistering each other through our lives’ heavy loads. And now we’re one sister joist stronger. It’s this place of together that’s kept me lifted during challenging times, and this expanded place of together that will keep all four of us lifted during our future challenges.  

As we move through life, creating new and deeper relationships, our place of together grows like an expanding circle, and when we find ourselves feeling heart-crushed and overwhelmed, we can rely on members within that circle to sister us, to be present and hold us up. 

This idea of sistering doesn’t apply only to sisters, it branches out to anyone in our circle of togetherness. 

Sometimes our partners step in and sister us while we simultaneously sister them, both of us leaning on each other for stability, as my man and I recently did together. 

Sometimes we call on our brothers, friends, loved ones and family, by blood or by choice. 

Sometimes we call in our spirit guides, guardian angels, healers, or past loved ones.

But ALL the time, God sisters us. We just don’t always know it. We think we’re alone when we’re not. 

The Universe, Source, Divine, whatever you call it, is ALWAYS sistering us, always fastened to our side, strengthening us. 

We are never alone.

Even if we had no one physically alive to sister us, we can always count on the Divine.

So when the world is too much, when we think we can’t take anymore, when we’ve lost all hope, we need only call out to God and know that we are supported.

Always.

In all ways. 

 

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