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.


In all ways. 


If you’re interested in joining a private community of sensitive souls who “sister” and support one another through our spiritual journeys here on earth, and are deeply committed to self-reflective emotional work, healing and growth, click here. Membership is currently closed but we’ll send you more details once it opens.


Uncovering Our Own Hidden Layers of Racism: A Personal Journey

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor

Is it possible to be a good person AND racist at the same time?

Had you asked me 3 weeks ago if I was racist, I would’ve unequivocally, absolutely with full conviction, said no. No way in hell. I’d bet my life and the lives of everyone I love on it, no hesitation whatsoever.

But a lot can change in 3 weeks.

Yet not enough can change in 400 years.

I’m an empathic, highly sensitive person (HSP), and I’ve always thought of myself as kind, compassionate and, by nature, sensitive to other people’s experiences, emotions, and energy.

But recently, I’ve discovered that I’m also insensitive and racist. 

And I’m crushed.

These past three weeks have been heavy. 

I’ve realized that I’m a product of a system that has brainwashed me into being racist without even knowing it. In fact, I’ve been so utterly against discriminating based on the color of a person’s skin that I consciously went the polar opposite of noticing color and told myself I was colorblind, which, as I’ve now learned, is also a form of racism and part of the systemic conditioning.

It’s a complex and centuries-rooted system with many layers of pretense and illusion. It makes you think you’re doing the right thing when in fact, you’re falling further into its trap and carrying out its plan in the real world, all day, every day, with real people.

Real people who are really hurting. 

And I’m the one doing the hurting, along with billions of others who don’t realize it. 

My intentions were pure, but as Nobel Prize winner Albert Camus says:

The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.

Albert Camus

Author and Journalist

People have been telling me not to be too hard on myself. “You didn’t know what you were doing,” they say. “You’re not racist, you’re just unconsciously biased. You’re a good person and you never meant to hurt anyone. It’s not your fault, it’s the system’s fault.”

I understand that, and yet, in this moment, I WANT to take full responsibility for what I didn’t know. I WANT to give myself the full, ugly, and harsh verdict of being a racist, rather than lessening the charge to unconscious bias or inadvertent prejudice.

It would feel better to blame the system and to say it was all unconscious. Yes, it would feel much better.

But I’m not in this to feel better. 

I’m in this to create lasting change and a better future for our world and my fellow humans, no matter what our skin color.

And in order to do that, I have to FULLY OWN my role in this broken system, even if it breaks me. 

I take solace in these words:

We’ve been taught to think about a racist as someone who consciously and intentionally seeks to hurt people based on race. And if that’s what you think it means to be racist, then of course it’s offensive that I would say you were racist. When you change your understanding of what it means to be racist, you will no longer be defensive…

When you change your definition, it’s actually liberating… It’s transformative… you can stop defending, deflecting, denying, explaining away, giving all the evidence for why you are different and couldn’t possibly have been impacted by the society you live in.

Robin DiAngelo

NY Times Bestselling Author, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People to Talk About Racism

DiAngelo, a white woman, candidly admits, “All of the racism I’ve perpetrated in my life was neither conscious nor intentional, but harmful to other people nonetheless.”

I urge you to read this guide with DiAngelo’s new definition in mind. Understanding racism in this way allowed me to be kind, loving, and gentle with myself, and remain emotionally and mentally open to learning more about myself and the ways in which I’ve perpetuated racism unconsciously. It also helped me understand the racist people in my life and ways in which they, too, are unconscious.

If you’ve been questioning your own unconscious bias or those of your loved ones, my hope is that this guide is not only informative, but also transformative for you, in the same way learning and processing all this has been for me. 

Like this article, the journey is long. And a very personal one at that. 

As a friend of mine said, “You’re a good person on a journey. And you’re not alone on that journey.” Knowing I’m not alone in my quest to evolve and become a better human being and living soul, I’m inspired to honestly and openly share what I’ve learned about myself, about others and about racism in the past few weeks. 

I’m not an expert by any means, and I’ve only barely begun my conscious education of racism, which is a lifetime learning. 

While this article is difficult to write on a personal level, having to admit ways in which I’ve been unconsciously racist, and also, knowing it may offend many and open the floodgates for criticism, I can’t NOT write it. I can’t remain silent. I can’t stay protected in my happy spiritual bubble of unicorns and rainbows transmuting energy, meditating and visualizing peace for this world while ignoring, denying, and avoiding the blood, skin, and bones that weave the fabric of our intertwined lives here on earth.

Besides, I can’t breathe. 

This is my attempt to breathe again.

And more importantly, to breathe for those who can no longer breathe. 


In an effort to make this guide easier to sort through, I’ve created a linkable table of contents so you can quickly jump from one section to another and find the parts that might apply to you.  

** For the record, this guide was written by an empathic, sensitive Amerasian female for her audience of diverse soul-centered empaths and HSPs, and specifically for those in her audience who are not black, though it could benefit anyone who’s starting to question their own unconscious bias. A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is a person who carries the genetic trait of high sensory-processing sensitivity, according to clinical and research psychologist Elaine N. Aron, PhD. HSPs are “deeply attuned and sensitive to their environments and relationships. They have high levels of empathy and emotional responsiveness. Above all, HSPs tend to be more thoughtful in their actions and deeply reflective. All this attunement and processing means they are also often easily overstimulated.” **



About them apples – bad apple or rotten tree?


Why it's important to fully own your role in the broken system


How the mind works (and why we reject the idea of systemic racism)


4 common sayings you think are innocent but are actually biased and hurtful

All lives matter

I'm colorblind

Focusing on antiracism only brings more racism

Looting: two wrongs don't make a right


How to process your racist tendencies and still love yourself


Now what? How to move forward


If you don’t think you’re racist, start having conversations with people who aren’t your color. If you catch yourself becoming angry and defensive, wanting to explain how you have black friends, or you don’t see color, or any number of reasons why you can’t possibly be racist, chances are you’re probably racist. 

We often have open conversations with people who look like us and agree with us, whether it’s a discussion about race, politics, sex, or religion. We often avoid conversations with those who vehemently disagree with us, unless we enjoy confrontation or want to change someone’s mind to think like us. 

Our close circle of friends are usually those who look like us, same skin color, and have similar or at least non-opposing opinions and beliefs, especially around sensitive or taboo topics. We typically don’t venture outside our own bubbles, our own view of the world, our own economic and social classes, our own circles of friends and family, interests, and heck, we don’t even go to grocery stores outside our own neighborhoods that might have a higher population of people of other colors and classes than us. 

You might ask, “Why would I possibly do that, it’s inconvenient to drive 50 miles away when the nearest grocery store is only 5 miles away.” Once you start learning more about systemic racism, you’ll understand why you live in the neighborhood you do and why that other grocery store is 50 miles away. 

The more we remain inside our safe and familiar bubbles, the less we know about others, the less open we become to other people’s way of life, which can be radically different from ours.

Opening ourselves to how others live and hearing their stories can be extremely uncomfortable, especially if we have a relatively good life compared to theirs. Moreso, discovering that we are a part, no matter how small, of the system that perpetuates it, can be devastating. 

So we avoid it altogether. We stay away from uncomfortable, heavy conversations that might lead us to a bigger truth. We stay in our happy bubbles until such time that we find the bubble closing in on us, suffocating us, and we can no longer breathe inside it. 

This happened to me the day George Floyd died.

While he was taking his last breaths in life, I was taking my last breaths in my protective cocoon of privileged denial. I’m not alone in this as we can all see from the incredible awakening that’s happening around the world following his death. People have been shouting from the rooftops for centuries about racism. 

Why am I just now hearing it? Why are we just now paying attention? WTF was wrong with us???? 

It’s like being in the Matrix. You don’t know you’re in the Matrix, plugged into the system, fed by it, controlled by it, sustained by it… until you wake up. Really wake up.

Photo by munshots

I believe George Floyd’s death was a wake-up call for many of us. His death is tragic, yet the global outcry it caused created a tsunami of change that I hope would make him, and all those before him, too many to name, extremely proud. 

This is why I choose to speak openly about this. Because he can’t. Because they can’t.

Well-meaning people tell me I’m going to lose subscribers and readers and clients. 

I don’t care.

People are going to hate you, criticize you, oust you, they say. 

I don’t care.

At least soften it, they say, don’t call yourself a racist, you were unconsciously bias, it’s different.


It’s time to face the cold, hard truth.

George Floyd did when his face was pressed against the gritty, hard ground and his neck was squeezed to death. He didn’t get the luxury of softening words, comfort, and racial denial. 

Nor should we.  

If this article has been incredibly uncomfortable to read so far… good.

We need to get used to this discomfort.  

The fact alone that I’m writing an article that calls out and separates “black people,” “white people,” and “non-black people” specifically is extremely uncomfortable and feels racist to me. I thought I wasn’t supposed to see or identify people by color, at least not out loud. But I’m learning now that racism isn’t about noticing color in people, racism is about discriminating against someone because of the color of their skin, and part of discriminating is pretending to NOT notice.

I have never in my nearly 50 years of life willingly sought out or joined a conversation that was specifically organized for black people and non-black people to talk about their racial experiences openly, to learn from each other. 

And more so, I have never willingly joined (or even heard of) a live video call with the collective and known intention of everyone involved, that the black folks were going to enlighten the non-black folks, like me, about their ignorance. 

Until now. 

And I’ve thankfully been on quite a few in the past 3 weeks. 

It’s how I became aware of my own unconscious bias… by having others point it out for me. 

By shining a light on the dark shadows in the hidden corners of our mind, we begin to see. By educating ourselves, by dropping our egoic defenses and opening our hearts and minds to healing and learning, by going deeper into our own beliefs, our perspective broadens and we awaken to ourselves and the world in a more holistic, truthful way. 

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately. I’ve been on countless live calls offered by people I know, people I don’t know, and people of all colors, especially the black community. I’ve been listening to podcasts, reading, talking to others, absorbing. I’ve been having extremely difficult and emotional conversations with those gracious and willing enough to have them with me. 

But mostly, I’ve been LISTENING. 

Really, truly listening. 

Not inserting my opinion… listening.

Not defending my stance… listening.

Not judging… listening.

And I’ve definitely stopped denying, minimizing, and dismissing. 


I hate to admit that until recently, I thought racism only existed in small pockets. I’d heard it was systemic but that didn’t fully sink in until last week. I thought most of the world, and especially our great America, was mostly nonracist and there were only bad apples here and there.  

I don’t believe I’m a bad apple, but I DO want to fully own my role in perpetuating the broken system because I’ve since learned that good apples, through their ignorance, can do a lot of damage.

And I’ve also learned that the “bad apple” mentality is a part of the insidious system’s conditioning. White people in denial (or in my case, part white, part Asian) often talk about the bad apples, but they fail to acknowledge that the tree itself is spoiled. This is why we need to stop seeing things in terms of bad apples and good apples and start looking at the tree, the roots, nutrients, branches, etc., and view racism from a broader perspective.


Change starts within each of us. If we want to see the world out there change, we must change the world within ourselves, personally. Each and every one of us. We cannot confront racism in the world until we confront the racism inside us.

It starts with first becoming aware of what we’re doing, taking full ownership of it, and then and only then can we take full ownership of changing it. If I keep blaming the system for creating this mess, it’s easy to put the onus of responsibility on the system to clean it. It’s easy to bash the system and go about our lives, claiming we stand for equality, justice, and freedom, yet do absolutely nothing substantial about it. 

If you stand for equality, TRULY and DEEPLY, do something about it personally. 

Don’t just throw money at it. Americans are very good at throwing money at problems hoping they’ll go away. It’s the easy solution, as it doesn’t require any self-exploration and deep inner work, and it makes us feel better about ourselves. Americans give over $1 billion a day to causes and charities. According to Philanthropy Roundtable, we donate seven times as much as continental Europeans and double the total volume of a Canadian household. Granted, money is very much needed in our society and I’m not knocking monetary donations, however, it’s not enough. 

No amount of money we could ever contribute collectively will amount to the radical, lasting transformation we can each create in the world by confronting our own shadows and changing our ways. 

How long have we been donating to organizations to combat hunger, abuse, racism, sexism, and on and on? And you think a billion dollars plus a day isn’t enough to fix things? 

We need to do better.

While donating to worthy causes makes us feel better about ourselves and undoubtedly helps the cause, it doesn’t create the deep internal change required to permanently fix a broken system that is run by individuals. Not just individuals in positions of power or authority, but the everyday ordinary working class individual as well. You. Me. All of us. Each of us. 

We are ALL part of the system.

Any societal system is made up of a sum of its parts. In this case, its human parts. We humans of all colors are part of this system. 

Because we’re part of the system, we can affect it. We can change it. 

And we need to do more to change it.

We need to take change into our own hands. We need to look deeper into our own hearts, our own values, our own conditioning – unconscious or not, and change it where necessary. 

We need to stop blaming, shaming, complaining, judging, criticizing, dismissing, denying, minimizing, and whitewashing. 

We need to stop paying lip service to wonderful sounding values that make us feel good about ourselves and make others respect us, all the while ignoring our own unconscious bias and hidden racist tendencies.

How many emails have you received in the past three weeks, from corporations, organizations and personal newsletters that you subscribe to, that start with something like, “We stand in solidarity with the Black community…” or “We stand for justice, equality, freedom…” and end with, “we’re donating to insert-worthy-anti-racist-cause?” 

And how many of those do you truly believe are searching within themselves for instances of systemic conditioning so that they can make a real, lasting change, long after the news stops reporting on the protests and the emotions wane?  

Of course, I stand for justice, equality, and freedom too.

But it’s not that black and white, is it?

We know people who stand for justice that treat others in an unjust way.

We know people who stand for equality that treat others in an unequal way.

We know people who stand for freedom that treat others in a controlling or oppressive way.

I am and have been guilty of all those.

So unfortunately, having those values is simply not enough.

We need to stop living on the surface of things, hiding behind our initial general responses, whether it’s defensiveness or conditioning, and go intimately deeper within ourselves to uncover our own unconscious bias.


Let’s talk about why we hardly look beyond our initial general responses, from a scientific perspective. 

What the mind doesn’t understand, it rejects. Our brain gathers information from the outside world, puts it all together like puzzle pieces based on our personal experiences, and tells us whether it’s valid (true) or not. If the information doesn’t fit within the lens of its understanding based on our experiences, it automatically rejects or dismisses it. 

It says things like:

That’s stupid.
There’s no way that’s happening in this country today.
Maybe there’s a little of that going on but it’s isolated to the bad apples.
That was one white man killing one black man, don’t make it bigger than that.
Blacks kill more blacks than whites kill blacks.
Slavery was 400 years ago, stop playing the race card and get over it. 
It didn’t even happen to you, it happened to your ancestors. Let it go.
I wanted to support the protestors after the murder of George Floyd but then they started looting and stealing things. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Now I can’t support them.

According to Samuel Paul Veissière, Ph.D, in Psychology Today:

There is a large and growing body of evidence — especially under Bayesian models of the brain, cognition, and culture — that human minds, like all living organisms, are biologically motivated to see and make the world consistent with their prior beliefs (both evolved and learned). This means that people often completely ignore (as in “not see at all”) what doesn’t fit their model, or actively work to destroy any evidence that challenges their model.

Samuel Paul Veissière, Ph.D

Interdisciplinary Anthropologist and Cognitive Scientist

What doesn’t fit into our personal worldview, what we don’t understand or don’t want to face, we ignore, minimize, and flippantly explain it away, using other stats to support our viewpoint, as if that makes everything okay. 

I’ve heard all of those things above these past few weeks, coming out of the mouths of people I love who are very well-intentioned and yet, racist – consciously or not.

In addition, what our heart doesn’t want to accept as truth, our mind supports, and gathers information and utilizes techniques to help us ignore whatever it is we don’t want to accept and pretend doesn’t exist.

Like our own unconscious bias.

Denial is one such technique. 

As the character Ricky Fitts in the movie American Beauty says, “Never underestimate the power of denial.”  


The power of my own denial was so great that I thought and said things (which I now understand as completely ignorant and hurtful) that supported my unintentional racism. It wasn’t until I got on live video calls with very loving, patient black people that the veil of denial was lifted and I finally woke up. How they had patience with the non-black people, like me, on the call asking ignorant questions is beyond me. But we were all there to learn from one another and grow, and hopefully move toward a change, and I’m beyond grateful for their tolerance, love, and willingness to share their stories, and to call us out, so that we can become better human beings.

Here are 4 things I learned that on the surface, seem innocent and good, but are actually signs of unconscious bias and hidden racism hard at work.

All lives matter.

Sure, black lives matter too, but ALL lives matter. 


Why this is hurtful:

Imagine a friend coming to you and telling you that her husband has been beating her for the past 20 years, that she’s been hiding her cuts and bruises, and remember when she told you she fell down the stairs and broke her arm? She didn’t fall down the stairs, he threw their metal patio chair at her face, she blocked it with her arm and it broke. She’s now coming to you because she’s in fear of her life and doesn’t know what to do. She finally mustered up the courage, after knowing you for 10 years, to ask for your help. He thinks she’s out grocery shopping, but instead, she rushed over to your house and only has an hour before he suspects something’s wrong. He’d brainwashed her into thinking maybe she deserved all the beatings, but she’s not so sure anymore. She tells you she thinks maybe her happiness and more so, her life, really does matter after all. 

And then you tell her how you were once spanked as a child because you drew on the walls and how that still haunts you and how your life matters too. And you remind her that Mary down the street lost her job and doesn’t have money to feed the kids and how their lives matter too. And then you tell her about the poor animals being murdered in the slaughterhouse so that humans can eat their flesh and how their lives matter too. And then you talk about the starving children in Vietnam and how their lives matter too.

And your friend sits on the couch in front of you, black eyes and swollen face, staring blankly, as you go on and on about all the other lives that matter.

Do you see how this is dismissive of her personal experience and a great betrayal of empathy and compassion, let alone your friendship, and beyond, your humanity?

If that example doesn’t sink in, here’s another.

Imagine your neighbor’s house down the street, 4 blocks away, is on fire. He comes running to you in a panic, “My house is on fire! My house is on fire! Call the fire department!” and you look at his house and look around at the other houses in the neighborhood and you say nonchalantly, “Calm down. All houses matter. Don’t you see, all houses are equally important.” And he screams, “Yes, but MY house is on fire RIGHT NOW. MY house is burning down! My kids are in it!” And you say, “Yea, and yesterday it was a house on Chatsworth Street, tomorrow it might be another house on another street. There are houses burning down in other countries too, you know. We all deserve a house that’s not on fire.”

“All Lives Matter” is a stab in the back to “Black Lives Matter.” It’s insensitive, dismissive of the black experience, and highly insulting. The statement “Black Lives Matter” is not saying “Black Lives Matter to the exclusion of all other lives.” It’s simply stating that black lives matter too. Black lives have every right to matter just like all other lives.

Consider that when we say “all lives matter” in the face of this movement – and we feel smug and good about ourselves because we’re so inclusive and progressive – we’re really saying, “All lives matter except black lives.” 

Think about it. Until we acknowledge that we’ve been letting their houses burn down by hiding behind our so-called values of equality and saying “all lives matter,” black lives will continue to not matter – to us. 

But we all know this is beyond houses burning down. This is about real human lives that are being burned, abused, and murdered, and no one listening.

This is why I’ve decided to stop saying “All Lives Matter,” and stand fully with “Black Lives Matter.”

I’m colorblind.

I don’t see color. 


Why this is hurtful:

Believing you’re colorblind is classic overcompensation for your own inner unconscious racist tendencies. In Psychology textbooks, overcompensation is “a pronounced striving to neutralize and conceal a strong but unacceptable character trait by substituting for it an opposite trait.”

Let me explain by sharing my own personal story of racial discrimination.

The first color I knew was yellow. I was born in Vietnam during the Vietnam war to a white American father and a native Vietnamese mother. My first language was Vietnamese and all the people I knew, with the exception of my father, had slanty eyes, black hair, brown eyes, and darker skin. My relatives called my father “ông Mỹ” which means “the American man” and he was the different one. He had blonde hair, blue eyes, and pale white skin.

When Vietnam fell, my dad packed my mom, me, and my two sisters up and took us back to America with him, moving in with his white American mother, my Nana. This is when I learned the color white. All the people around us were white, and we became the different ones. 

This included my dad, who no longer fit in with his own race. He looked like them but he was no longer one of them, because he had us – 4 slanty eyed, off-white females that he called family – and because he went there, to what was back then the most unpopular war in American history.

He was spat on and ousted as a traitor by his fellow American citizens and it was difficult for him to find a job and settle back into his own country. I remember my teacher in Kindergarten asking me if I knew my dad was a “babykiller,” a common name they called American soldiers who fought in the Vietnam war, falsely depicted by sensational Hollywood movies made in that era. I didn’t know what the word meant but I fiercely understood my teacher’s energy. Her energy said she hated my father and he was a bad man. I remember wondering what she thought about me since I came from him.

By the time I was 6, we’d moved out of the country, and would go back to America every summer. My 15th summer, we were visiting my Nana when she asked me why I was dating a black boy. Like a giddy teenager, I told her all the amazing and sweet things about him, and she interrupted me and said, “I know all that, but why did you choose a BLACK boy.” It was in that moment that I learned the color black and also learned that my Nana was racist.

Ironically, long before then, my Nana had shown signs of racism toward my mother and I never noticed. I thought she was just cranky. But now I realize she was racist against anyone who wasn’t white.   

I remember consciously making the decision that I was NOT going to be like my Nana, noticing and discriminating against people because of the color of their skin. It churned my stomach to think about her being racist that I deliberately chose to swing in the opposite direction and avoid noticing color altogether, including my own.

I thought this was the right thing to do and for decades, I’ve felt content and confident in my own nonracist ways until two weeks ago when I learned that colorblindedness is not merely an inability or unwillingness to notice different colored skin, it’s also a lie we tell ourselves to hide from the dark truth. 

A truth our hearts don’t want to admit, that: 

Not seeing color is another shade of racism.

Because we don’t want to be accused of discriminating against a person of color, we avoid color altogether. We’re afraid we might say or do the wrong thing so we pretend that we think everyone’s the same. If we notice someone is black and we mention it, we might be accused of being racist, simply because we noticed they’re black, so we ignore their color and therefore we ignore any differences and any possible accusations of racism.

But if I gave you a box of crayons, would you see the different colors? Would you not pick the colors you consider pretty or pleasing to draw with? A box of crayons holds no racial tension, although some of the names of the colors like “flesh” is pretty darn racist – another sign of our deeply ingrained systemic conditioning. But in general, crayons in and of themselves are just a bunch of colored wax sticks that have no history of oppression, murder, or wrongdoing. It’s neutral. So we have no problem acknowledging that we see color when we look at a box of crayons, because there’s no fear that we’d be accused of being racist if we notice or even like the red crayon over the blue crayon.  

How can we admit to seeing color in a box of crayons but not in a diverse world of people? It’s because we equate color in people – and noticing color in people – as negative. The fact alone that we fail to admit our ability to see color in people is indicative of the unconscious and deeply-rooted systemic conditioning that continues to exacerbate the problem. 

Well-meaning whites teach their children that everyone is equal and should be treated the same, believing that ignoring ethnic differences promotes racial harmony. But in fact, it allows well-meaning whites to remain blind to others’ personal experiences, and therefore, further solidifies racial inequity. 

By failing to admit we see color or by trying not to see color, we are in essence dismissing, denying and avoiding the experiences of people of color. 

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Monnica Williams writes, Most minorities, who regularly encounter difficulties due to race, experience colorblind ideologies quite differently. Colorblindness creates a society that denies their negative racial experiences, rejects their cultural heritage, and invalidates their unique perspectives.”

Who I am today is colored by the fact that I’m part white, part yellow, speak Vietnamese and English, have lived in Asia, America, the Middle East, and Europe, and have personally and intimately experienced the positive and negative racial, cultural, and ethnic differences in myself and others growing up. 

To say that I’m colorblind is to deny who I am. And to deny who you are. 

This is why I’ve decided to stop saying I don’t see color, and stop trying to not see color, and start noticing our colorful differences that have shaped us to become who we are. 

Focusing on antiracism only brings more racism.


Why this is hurtful:

As a spiritually conscious person, I understand the Law of Attraction. I understand that what you focus on increases, what you put your energy toward expands. Mother Teresa is quoted to have said, “I will never attend an anti-war rally; if you have a peace rally, invite me.” The idea is that if you focus on peace, you’ll bring about more peace. If you focus on anti-war, which is merely the flip side of war, you’ll bring about more war. In pro-peace, your energy is aimed toward creating something positive. In anti-war, your energy is aimed toward fighting something negative.

We’re taught as spiritual students to not be “against” anything as it only creates more resistance toward the thing and gives it more power. Instead, we should be “for” something as it releases resistance and gives us more power to manifest that which we’re “for”. 

Morgan Freeman, in a 2005 interview with Mike Wallace on 60 minutes, said we can get rid of racism when we “stop talking about it.” He continues, “I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.”

I remember hearing that when the interview first aired 15 years ago and I completely agreed with him back then. I felt that the more we talk about it, focus on it and put our energy on it, the more it expands, the more we keep it alive. 

Today, I no longer believe that. And I suspect neither does Morgan Freeman as he recently opened his Instagram account to anyone who wanted to share their story of racism.

I’m not sure what shifted within Morgan Freeman, but I’ll tell you what shifted in me. 

It’s been an ongoing personal process in the past 10 years that has led me to a place where I no longer live in the spiritual la-la-land of beautiful quotes and ideologies that have no practical application in the “real world”. I now have my feet firmly planted on earth experiencing its physical reality, and at the same time, my arms outreached and vision held firmly in the transcendent, spiritual realm.

Many of us spiritual students hide behind dreamy spiritual principles that, while true from a deeper perspective, prevent us from facing (and therefore, healing) the cold, hard facts of our everyday lives. We do this because it’s easier and gives us a sense of control where we feel helpless. When you have zero money in your bank account, have no idea where you’ll get the rent money by the 1st, and have to hide your car at your friend’s house for fear it might get repossessed, it feels better to write affirmations on your mirror about how abundance flows effortlessly to you and how deserving you are of wealth and riches.  

I once affirmed myself all the way to bankruptcy. I’ve since learned the importance of claiming full responsibility in my life, and that means facing it head on, in full force, so I can reclaim my power and create real change, physically and spiritually. 

Let me give you an example of how this applies to our statement and why it’s hurtful.

Remember our friend from the #AllLivesMatter section above? The one whose husband has been beating her for 20 years? Imagine she’s sitting on our couch again, sharing her story through sobs, and this time, instead of telling her about all the other lives that matter in this world, we say:

“Stop talking about it. You keep focusing on what’s happening right now and how you’ve felt the past 20 years and what he’s done. That’s in the past. Is he beating you right now? In this moment? No, you’re safe. Start focusing on how safe it feels right now so you can manifest more safety in your future. Look at the pretty flowers in the yard, visualize beauty and love, focus on the positive, and write a list of all the things you’re grateful for, really feel it. When you go home and he beats you again, think about peace, vibrate pro-peace and try not to think about what he’s doing to you, how much it hurts and how bad you feel, it’s just an illusion anyway. Try to envision light and joy and how you want to feel. Stop talking, thinking, and reading about physical abuse because the more you put your energy on it, the more it happens.” 

Some friend we are, huh?

This is exactly what we do when we don’t want to face racism. We dismiss the personal stories, the raw, real life, heavy, painful, bloody experiences that need to be brought to light, processed and healed before lasting change can occur. 

We can no longer afford to ignore, avoid, or otherwise deny these experiences in the name of spirituality. 

In fact, facing our humanity in all its messy fullness is the most spiritual thing we can do.

But why do they have to loot?

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Besides, it won’t bring George Floyd back. 


Why this is hurtful:

First, nothing will bring George Floyd back. Everyone knows this, even the looters. He was murdered in plain sight for all the world to see. Second, this isn’t about two wrongs, this is about 5,498,543,189 wrongs committed over the past 400+ years. (Yes, I made up that number. In reality, it’s likely a lot more than 5 billion.)

Imagine you grew up hearing stories directly from your great grandparents, grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, friends, and practically everyone you know about their own personal experiences of slavery, segregation, discrimination, mistreatment, or oppression. 

Imagine your uncle was arrested and went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Imagine you were once beaten up as a child on your way to school by a bunch of white kids, spat on and called the n-word. Imagine finally becoming a teenager and your parents sit you down at the dining room table to have “the talk” with you but instead of talking about sex, they teach you that if you ever got stopped for speeding or a traffic violation or while walking down the street at night, to put up your hands in plain sight, don’t argue, be polite and remain calm and nonthreatening no matter what, or you might get killed simply because the color of your skin sparks fear and even hatred in some people. 

Imagine being turned down for colleges because of the color of your skin. Imagine every job you apply for going to a white person. Imagine when you finally get a good job that your white colleague gets more opportunities to grow within the company. Imagine telling that white colleague how you feel about all this and them dismissing you, saying you’re pulling the race card and racism doesn’t exist and you have to stop playing victim and take charge of your own life! 

Now imagine yet another unjust murder of a black person.

And the world still doesn’t listen. 

You’ve been given nothing in this life, you’ve been treated as though you’re not entitled to anything, you don’t deserve anything, all the hard work you do means nothing. And suddenly there’s an uprising, you feel it in your gut, you feel it in your peers around you, you feel it in the world. A window to a store gets smashed and people are running in and taking things, or maybe you’re the one who smashed the window.

All the years of repressed anger at all the injustices you’ve personally experienced and the DNA of your ancestors and relatives within you, flowing through you, boiling to the surface… your rage takes over and you run in, grab a 3-pack bundle of underwear and run out, because no one has ever given you a goddamn thing in your life, everything has been taken away, and you deserve this ONE thing dammit, just one goddamn thing, even if it’s just a package of underwear. 

It’s an act of empowerment, of reclaiming your power, of asserting that you’re worth something, you deserve something. It’s also an act of defiance and retribution against capitalism and the system that perpetuates racism. And then of course, there are those who simply want to cause chaos and destruction, destroying and stealing things for the sake of it, or to get free stuff.

In all these cases, it doesn’t make it right. But at least we can begin to understand the emotions behind some of the looting. And we can begin to see how complex and deeply rooted systemic racism infiltrates our every day lives, for all people of all colors, especially those who are consistently and systematically deprived, and how sometimes enough is simply enough.

Another reason this statement is hurtful is because it’s yet another way we hide behind our ignorance and unwillingness to face our own racist tendencies. For those who said you supported the Black Lives Matter movement until they started looting, consider the sweeping generality and typecasting of that statement. 

It’s like saying you wanted to help your abused friend until you heard on the news that a woman who was also abused by her husband slapped her baby in public. While the root of the action may stem from a commonality of a lifetime of abuse, pain and suffering, one woman’s actions cannot speak for all women, nor can it speak for all abused women, nor can it speak for all abused women of a certain color. And while we can’t condone the action of the other woman, it doesn’t mean we turn our back on our friend who needs our help.

If any of the above examples helped you understand more about your loved ones, yourself or your own role in contributing to racism, and you’re as shocked and horrified as I was, there’s hope. 

In fact, now that we’ve awakened to our own ignorance, we can finally do something substantial about it. 

But first, it’s important to process your thoughts and emotions internally.


It’s not easy to discover that you’re one of them, one of those people you disliked, who discriminates against another because of their skin color. For many of us, it’s downright devastating. For me personally, these past few weeks have been a really intense emotional journey that has made me question many things about myself.

On one of the calls I joined, an incredibly patient black woman named Sharon Brown told us to ask ourselves three questions:


What don't I know?


What do I know?


What can I do now in my sphere of influence?

Sharon Brown is an investor, advisor, entrepreneur, and launch strategist. She invests in small businesses looking to grow physical products, SaaS, and services. You can learn more about her at SharonBrown.co and you can listen to her Target Launch podcast on all major platforms. You can also connect with her on LinkedIn.

What don’t I know:

I’ve learned that I don’t know much about racism. I don’t know anything about the black experience. In fact, I don’t even know what I don’t know. 

What do I know:

I know that I’m open to learning about racism, individual and systemic. I know that my intentions are pure, my heart is kind and I’m committed to growth. As one of my well-respected mentors said about himself after discovering he was perpetuating the hurt the black community felt by making innocent but ignorant comments and doing things that were contributing to racism, “I’m facing a lot of personal uncertainty right now but I stand completely grounded in certainty about being a good person.”

As do I. 

Just because you have racist tendencies or unconscious bias does not mean you’re a bad person. 

It just means you’re human. You’re evolving, learning, growing. You’re on a journey.  This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. A life-long marathon. 

My first feelings were of shock, guilt, anger, and shame. At first directed toward myself and then toward the system. But the moment I started blaming the system and pointing fingers, defending myself, and attacking others, I knew I had to reign it back in and look in the mirror. 

I AM the system. WE ARE the system. 

It’s up to us to change it. And it starts by truthfully acknowledging our role in it.

James Baldwin, author of the unfinished manuscript Remember This House, off which the film I Am Not Your Negro is based, wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

We must first face our own demons before we can face the world’s, and before we can affect change, personally and globally. 

What can I do now in my sphere of influence:

I then moved to Sharon’s third question and decided to host my own call, much like the calls my mentors have hosted for their community where we openly faced our demons together. My sphere of influence is in my blog subscribers, my readers, students, clients, family, friends and fans. So I offered a free live call to my subscribers to discuss what I learned and see how others were feeling. This was the first time I openly shared my discoveries of my own racism, and I received many messages after the call from people of all colors stating how they too are awakening to their own layers of racism. 

Make no mistake, there’s a mass awakening on the planet right now. Starting with a global pandemic, this year has been the year for uprooting and overturning everything we thought we knew about humanity, ourselves, life and the ways in which our society functions. 

This is an unprecedented time and I’m excited, honored and terrified to be a part of it. 

In dealing with your own feelings of shock, guilt, shame, anger, etc., it’s important to remember the broader vision. You’re standing at the leading edge of massive change, at a time that will be recorded and immortalized in history books forever, at the tipping point of a radical shift in humanity where the kind, loving, inclusive world you always yearned for is starting to form. It’s still in its early infancy, yes, but it’s being birthed as you read this.

We are evolving. And evolution hurts. Change is difficult. And necessary.

As a teacher of energy and emotions, here’s my best topline advice for processing your emotions through this heavy time.

1. Understand that emotions are simply energy in motion.

Nothing more, nothing less. We label our emotions and judge them as good or bad based on how pleasurable they feel, or not. We resist them when they feel unpleasant and welcome them when they feel pleasant. When they feel unpleasant, we try to push them away by denying, numbing, rationalizing or any number of tools we’ve picked up along the way to change our emotions. When those tools don’t work, we beat ourselves up and judge ourselves… for being weak, not good enough, wrong, broken, flawed. We think we should be better and feel better but that makes us feel worse so on and on we go in a downward emotional cycle.

When you fully understand that emotions are simply energy in motion and have absolutely no correlation to your identity, worth or value whatsoever, they no longer control you and you become free to feel anything and everything that arises with strength, power, and acceptance.

In the same way that we don’t judge the electricity flowing through our homes, we no longer judge our emotions for flowing through us nor do we judge ourselves for feeling those emotions.

2. Understand that like all energy, emotions need to flow.

When an emotion is resisted, pushed down, or otherwise rejected, it ceases to flow and becomes stuck, stagnant energy in our beings that we drag around with us everywhere we go, like a tumor inside us. Ever meet someone who’s always uptight, like they’re on the verge of exploding? It’s because they have old, unprocessed, and stuck energy that’s constantly struggling to break free. The more they push it down, the more powerful its desire to flow. If they never release it emotionally through their energy body, it seeps through their physical body, sometimes in the form of a cancerous tumor, chronic fatigue, or any number of health issues. Many of us have been lugging around trapped, unresolved, unhealed energy for years, decades and even an entire lifetime. It’s no wonder we’re chronically exhausted.

When an emotion is allowed to flow freely, it comes and goes quickly. When an emotion is acknowledged and welcome, no matter how painful, it moves through our energy body efficiently and effectively, as it was meant to, often within minutes and even seconds.

It’s not necessary to feel an emotion for hours, let alone even 20 minutes. The only reason we feel emotions longer than 90 seconds is because we’re either holding on (usually because it’s pleasant) or we’re resisting (usually because it’s unpleasant). In either scenario, we’re not allowing it to freely flow through us, we’re obstructing it.

3. The best way to let emotions flow is to breathe and allow.

It’s simple yet one of the most challenging practices, especially when you’re new to it. When we’re caught up in a moment of intense emotion, the last thing we want to do is slow our breath or welcome something that feels bad or painful. We typically want to change the emotion (so we can feel better), change whatever it is outside of us that triggered the emotion (like a person or a situation), or if we have a tendency to internalize things, like many highly sensitive people, we want to change ourselves.

These are all forms of resistance. Instead of reacting to our initial impulse to change it, take a deep breath (even if it’s a deep shaky breath) and count to 5 as you breathe in slowly, and another 5 as you breathe out slowly. Counting serves as a distraction to take your mind off the intensity and gives it something else to focus on. Breathing serves as a reminder to pause, to recenter yourself so you can act from a more mindful space rather than reacting and getting swept away in your emotion. You’re not trying to change the emotion, you’re simply counting your breaths and allowing the emotion to flow through.

If, while breathing, the emotion feels hyperactive, in the sense that you feel like you want to jump out of your own skin, you can’t sit still, or you’re shaking, trembling, or want to physically hit something, listen to your body. Allow it to guide you in releasing the energy, in a way that doesn’t harm you or another person or animal. You could beat up a pillow, do jumping jacks, yell, scream into the sky, have a tantrum. Young children are great at flowing their emotions freely. As soon as they’ve released, they’re often calm and feeling better. The younger the child, the quicker the release since they haven’t yet learned to judge, condemn, or use their emotions to get what they want yet.

One of my favorite techniques for super intense emotion is what I call the “Crazy Banshee Dance”. In the safety of your own home (or any private place – if you’re at work, it could be a filing room or a supply closet), jump up and down, shake, convulse, flail your arms, thrash about like a wild, untamed, crazy person. If you’re in a completely private space and can make noise, then wail, scream, shriek, yell, cry. Allow your body to release the emotion for you in whatever way it wants (safely, of course). This is my favorite practice because it’s not only incredibly easy and effective in quickly releasing intense emotions, but the absurdity of how I would look if someone were watching (you’ll know what I mean when you do it) makes me laugh and my energy suddenly shifts to one of playfulness and freedom. After all, how often do you ever let your inhibitions completely go and move like a wild banshee, in public or in private?

The idea is to allow your emotion to flow freely by relaxing into it, accepting and welcoming it. You are not your emotions, you’re simply a human being feeling energy in motion move through you. In removing any sense of self-identification with the emotion, we become free to feel without judgment and the emotion is gone in mere seconds, no longer trapped inside us.

If you’re an empath, remember that you have a tendency to absorb other people’s emotions, taking them on as your own. During these past few weeks (and months, due to COVID-19), you’ve likely felt overwhelming feelings of deep sadness, loss, grief, confusion and anger. You’ve probably burst into tears, seemingly out of the blue when you’re washing dishes or driving or doing other neutral tasks, your emotions raw and bubbling to the surface from deep within. You’ve probably had conversations with family members that leave you feeling frustrated, enraged or even completely checked out. You’ve probably even gotten to the point of not watching the news or canceling your social media accounts. 

And it’s likely that you’re absolutely positively 100% unequivocally SPENT.

Depleted. Drained. Exhausted.


Be mindful that you’re not only processing your own emotions but you’re also feeling the collective emotions of our society as well as the individual emotions of those immediately around you and in your household. Be extra gentle with yourself as you maneuver your way through the myriad of emotions swirling through and around you. 

As you begin to awaken to the ways in which you’ve personally perpetuated racism by your unconscious words, behaviors, or actions (or lack of), it’ll be hard enough to deal with your guilt, shame, and anger without adding on extra layers of self-judgment and criticism. As sensitive, loving souls who’ve spent a lifetime being misunderstood and having others treating us insensitively, we know how it feels. So when we discover we’ve been inadvertently misunderstanding and treating black people insensitively, it cuts us deeply, and we turn the pain and anger inward, beating ourselves up for being the mean ones. 

It’s important to remember, and gently remind ourselves over and over, that unconscious bias is just that – unconscious. We didn’t know what we were doing and we never intentionally wanted to hurt anyone. 

But now that we know what we’re doing, where do we go from here?

As Kimberly McCormick said on one of our calls, “The things we can learn from each other are much more powerful than the things we try to find wrong with each other.”

So let’s start learning from each other…


It’s one thing to discover our role in a broken system, it’s another to take action to change it. Sadly, many people will stop at discovery. If creating personal change is difficult, affecting planetary change seems impossible. But like the system which is composed of a sum of its parts, so too do we humans, as well as all life forms, comprise the inhabitants of this planet. As inhabitants, we have the power to create change where we live, in our individual homes, and our greater, global home. 

Becky Margiotta, founder of Billions Institute, recorded this short and practical 9-minute video about the Power of Commitment, specifically during this time when many are wondering how to take action. Watching her process the steps in real time helped me so much that I reached out to Billions Institute and received permission to use her video for this article.



Once you’re committed to creating lasting, substantial change, here are some things you can start doing.





Educate yourself.

It’s your responsibility to educate yourself. While the black people on the live calls I joined were gracious enough to spend their time educating the non-blacks, it’s not their job. It’s yours. And mine. Scattered throughout this guide are links to resources that have helped me tremendously in the past few weeks. Start there and follow your inner guidance to lead you where you need to go. Consider this a continuing education that never ends.


Specifically, listen to black people as they tell their stories. True listening requires setting aside our own ego, beliefs, assumptions, perceptions, stories, defenses, offenses, pretenses, righteousness, and hurt feelings. While all these may still be present despite our best efforts, we can remind ourselves of the primary goal – to acknowledge another human being’s existence – and continue to release our egoic layers while deepening our listening. As a black man said at the beginning of a call, If you’re going to make any assumptions, assume what you’re hearing is the truth.” Expect to be uncomfortable.

Become an active advocate for social justice.

I have always been someone who says they believe in social justice but I haven’t actually done anything about it. Don’t be like me. I’m not even going to be that me anymore. There are many ways to advocate but here are a few.


Support organizations or groups that work toward racial justice and equality. This could be donating time, resources, or money. If you donate money, I challenge you to take it a step further.


Talk about race. To people inside and outside your circle. Don’t try to change anyone’s mind, simply share what you’re learning about yourself personally and about systemic racism. They may or may not agree with you, but that’s irrelevant.


Take this free 21-Day Racial Equity Building Challenge by Eddie Moore, Jr. which urges you to do one action a day to deepen your understanding, and has a list of suggested reading, listening, and watching.


Become an antiracist, not just a nonracist.

The term ‘antiracist’ refers to people who are actively seeking not only to raise their consciousness about race and racism, but also to take action when they see racial power inequities in everyday life. Being an antiracist is much different from just being ‘nonracist,’ as Black antiracist Marlon James made clear. Being a nonracist means you can have beliefs against racism, but when it comes to events like the murders of Black men by police, “you can watch things at home unfolding on TV, but not do a thing about it.”

According to James, being an antiracist means that you are developing a different moral code, one that pairs a commitment to not being racist (whether verbalized or not) with action to protest and end the racist things you see in the world. I would add that saying you aren’t a racist isn’t enough to start healing from racism. You need the intentional mindset of ‘Yep, this racism thing is everyone’s problem—including mine, and I’m going to do something about it.

Anneliese A. Singh, Ph.D., LPC

Author, The Racial Healing Handbook

Much love and compassion for your ongoing journey,


Dear Overwhelmed Sensitive Soul

Dear Overwhelmed, Sensitive Soul,

Is the world too much for you these days? 

Feel the suffering of our collective humanity deep in your being? 

Your own family and loved ones getting on your nerves?

There’s no escape, is there?

I know. 

I hear you.

I feel you.

I sense your pain. 

In fact, you’ve felt too much for too long that now you’ve become a hollowed out shell of a person. 

Kind of numb. But not really.

Still suffering. 

Still feeling. 

Still thinking.

Always thinking. SO much thinking!

It’s a never ending loop of thoughts that chatters through the night, keeping you awake, staring at the blank ceiling, frustrated, helpless, tired. 

So tired. 

I know the awful thoughts you’re thinking in the privacy of your mind… about your family, life, other people, yourself, God. 

I know the guilt and shame you feel for thinking these thoughts. 

I know the pain and sting of these private thoughts suddenly blurted out in the open for others to hear in a moment of uncontrollable emotional and verbal release. 

And I know the immediate, subsequent recoiling of shame, guilt and regret as the wounded eyes upon which the words fell stare back at you with hurt and shock. 

It’s like a snake whipping its head out to attack in an unconscious moment of fear and defense, only to find that it spit venom into its own spawn.

Hear me on this: 

Your thoughts do not make you a bad person. 

Your actions and reactions do not make you a bad person.

Your emotions do not make you a bad person.

The way you’re handling the state of our current COVID-19 world does not make you a bad person.

Whether you’re loving life and feeling guilty for your enjoyment while others are suffering, or you’re hating life and feeling depressed for all the suffering… 

… you are a beautiful soul.

You are a beautiful human being.

Stop now, dear one. 

Close your eyes and take a deep breath.

Shhhhh…… Quiet….. Listen…. 

Do you hear it? 

The love pulsing through you?

There is so much love for you. Here. Now. 

Yes, YOU, every part of you – even the parts you consider ugly, the Divine considers beautiful and precious.

OH you beautiful, precious, overwhelmed, sensitive soul!

If you can only glimpse a teeny tiny miniscule fraction of the everpresent, pure and unconditional love flowing in your direction, through you, in you, out of you, under you, over you, from you, you would fall on your knees in tears and gratitude for the absolute, overwhelming power of everflowing presence and grace.

It’s right here. 

Not there. 


It’s in you. 

Not everyone-else-except-you.


It’s now. 

Not later-when-you’re-worthy.


Wait, what, you can’t feel it? You don’t sense it?

Don’t believe me?

Try this.

You know that aching heart of yours? 

That place inside that hurts so much, that’s been broken and mended and broken again, a million times over. That painful, beating, throbbing, pulsing, shattered heart of yours that keeps you alive. 

Put your hand over it. 

Close your eyes and listen. Actively listen and feel its vibration, pulsing under the palm of your hand.

Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you.


Do you feel the life inside it, underneath your chest?

Do you sense the light throbbing in there?

The reason you feel so deeply is because you have so much light trying to enter (and express itself).

This light… it’s living, breathing, doing, being. 

All without your help. 

What’s keeping it beating if you don’t have to think about maintaining it all day, every day? What’s keeping it going when you’re sleeping? Does someone have the night shift to keep it functioning while you’re resting?

How does it know to pump blood in and out, all day, every day, without any kind of training from you? Did it go to Heart 101 school?

How does it have the energy and strength to do it all day and night, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, without taking a lunch break or a 2 week vacation?

How is it still alive when you’re not controlling it, running it, thinking about it?

What keeps that light, that life, inside you?

Close your eyes, dear one.





Cry, if you must.

Dear loving, beautiful, precious, overwhelmed, sensitive soul,

You are loved.

You are lovable.

You are loving.

You ARE love.

You are the purpose of life.

Everything is going to be okay. 

All is well. 

Really, really well.

Something bigger than you, bigger than me, bigger than humanity, is running this joint, this Earth, this Life. 

All we need to do is surrender into this knowing and trust.

You don’t have to trust. But you’ll be happier if you do. You’ll find peace in trust. 

Regardless, Love will continue to flow. Life will continue to flow. 

The Divine will continue to dance. 

And you will continue to be danced through it.

And you will always be loved. 

No matter what, you worthy, loving, beautiful, precious, overwhelmed, sensitive soul, you! 


Want another love letter? Here you go, this one’s written just for you too

Exhausted from trying to be spiritual, positive and loving all the time?


In a previous relationship nearly a decade ago, my then-boyfriend had fallen in love with a younger woman after 5 years of us being together. We had created a home, business and what I thought was a good life together. 

While we figured out our next steps and sorted out our expenses, we remained in the same house, with me moving into the guest room and the new woman occasionally sleeping over with him in the master bedroom, which was once our room and our bed, and now had become their room and their bed. 

(In case you’re wondering, I’ve learned A LOT about setting boundaries since then!)

I tried desperately to survive emotionally, but I was completely crushed. Being the “good spiritual person” that I am and fearing that I might fall back into the dark abyss of depression that had consumed me in my 20s, I struggled to understand, accept and even appreciate the situation while pushing down my growing feelings of anger, resentment and spite toward both of them. 

I reminded myself of all the spiritual truths I know, that we’re all beautiful souls who came here to learn certain lessons and teach each other things, and that everything has a greater purpose for the good of all involved, and that difficult times are really opportunities to evolve and become more of who we came here to be, and that we all willingly and eagerly agree to come here to earth and fulfill our soul contracts….

And because I truly loved my ex, I wanted so desperately to understand him and why he would behave in this way, and I constantly reminded myself of the quote, “forgive them for they know not what they do,” and I searched deep within my heart to find compassion, forgiveness and love for him and his new girlfriend. 

I thought I was doing okay, even though it was a constant, daily struggle. I thought I was being a good, responsible spiritual person by trying to see the light in the darkness and trying to beam love toward them, rather than anger. 

But then I got an email from my dad saying he had leukemia and might die soon.

And that’s when I collapsed, under the pressure of all the pretenses I’d been living, adding my dad’s impending death knocked me over the tipping point. 

That’s when I became a REAL person, not someone who pretended to be a good spiritual person and tried to see the light in all things, but someone whose life was truly a mess and someone who finally gave herself permission to hate, to lash out in anger, to crumble onto the floor and wail at the top of my lungs, to be completely and utterly AUTHENTIC to myself and my feelings – in the moment – with absolute reckless abandon, no matter how ugly. 

That’s when I learned the power of being me, fully, exactly where I was in the moment, “unspiritual” feelings and all. 

I’ve since learned the higher purpose behind this experience and have found the beautiful, light, loving place in me for my ex and his then-lover, but it took some growing up on my part to come to this peaceful place, which I truly believe was helped by my full acceptance of where I was at the time… as well as the surrender to it.


What It Means To Be True & Authentic To Yourself 


Have you ever had these thoughts:

“It’s SO HARD to be spiritually aligned all the time! I’m TRYING to emit love, light and compassion toward my partner and kids but they’re driving me absolutely nuts! I’m overwhelmed, overloaded and I just want to SCREAM!”

Sound familiar? 

How about this…

“Every time I feel this way, I try to meditate, envision the light and remember that we’re all evolving souls and I try to witness it and think positive thoughts but I’m so totally exhausted… and to be completely and brutally honest, sometimes I have really bad thoughts about my family and that feels MORE REAL to me than the light.”  

Aaaaaah…. Honesty. 

{Deep sigh of relief}

Whether it’s the people or the circumstances in your life … if having snarky, angry, unkind or negative thoughts and feelings about them feels more honest and authentic than the positive thoughts you’re trying to muster up, admitting and allowing this is the beginning of shifting it, and the first step in embracing exactly who we are and where we are in our evolutionary journey. 

I’ve been doing 1 on 1 private coaching during this COVID-19 shift and some deep, hard-core stuff has been rising up in my clients. We work together internally as well as externally, meaning, I teach them tools to help dissolve the tight, dense heaviness of their intense emotions and transmute them to lighter, freer, more peaceful energy (internal), while giving them practical ways to deal with the challenges they’re facing in their everyday lives around relationships, career, finances, etc, (external) that may be triggering the emotions.

In this intense time of lockdown, like many with spouses and children at home, one of my client’s feels trapped in someone else’s energy all day, every day. She’s absorbing their energy and feels a growing resentment toward them as well as anger and helplessness toward the world for being in its current COVID state. Every time her husband walks by or says something, no matter how casual, she feels a tightness in her gut and wants to yell at him to shut up, go away and leave her alone. But instead of voicing what’s on her mind, she begins to visualize herself on a deserted beach, completely alone, basking in the quiet, soothing sounds of waves and birds. 

This visualization works sometimes. 

And other times, not so much.

It’s in those other-not-so-much-times that she struggles to regain her sense of center, emotional strength and broader perspective, and grasps frantically at anything that will help her come back to a place of love and acceptance. She tries her hardest to “zap” the dense energy away with light beams, love rays, affirmations, visualizations, meditations and every other technique in her spiritual armory. In exasperation, she asks me, “What else can I try,” desperate to find that one magic trick that will prevent her from succumbing to the darkness.

And so, if there were a magic trick, it would be this: 

Sometimes the most spiritually aligned action is to dive fully into the darkness.

I learned this from my moment of collapse when I finally surrendered to being fully me, exactly as I was in that moment. Not love and light and my idea of spiritually evolved, but instead, messy, dark, ugly, angry, broken.  

It’s a lot of work to be something you’re not. 

It’s a lot of work to feel something you don’t.

It’s a lot of work to change something that isn’t. 

No wonder we’re exhausted.

We have a vision of what it looks like to be “a spiritual person”. We’re constantly told we should try to think positive thoughts, have love and compassion toward others, and never harbor hatred, resentment, anger, spite or any of the so-called “darker” emotions. When we do, we feel weak, unevolved and ashamed. We tell ourselves we should know better, do better and be better. After all, we’ve spent a lifetime working so damn hard on ourselves and have read all the books and taken all the courses.  

Yet, our idea of what a spiritual person looks like is NOT what a spiritual person really looks like.

A spiritual person looks like you. 

And me. 

And the person in your house who’s driving you bat-crazy.

“Well, Tree,” you might argue, “I don’t want to be THAT kind of a spiritual person. I know we’re all spiritual beings having human experiences. But I want to be the kind of spiritual person who lives in love, light and pixie dust all the time, and doesn’t get bothered by anything (or anyone) that happens to them!” 

And I ask, “so are you there yet?”

“Well, no. But I should be there!”

And therein lies the problem. 

It’s a lot of work to be somewhere you’re not. 

It doesn’t mean you won’t get there one day, it just means BE FULLY PRESENT where you are right now, no matter where you find yourself in your spiritual journey. It’s okay to keep the end goal in mind, if that’s what you dream for yourself, but live in and fully embrace the NOW while moving toward the future.  

If where you find yourself now is in an anxious moment of wanting to find a small, dark hole to hide in, away from the noisy energy of your spouse and kids, and thinking horrible thoughts about them, BE FULLY PRESENT in that moment. ACCEPT that this is where you are right now. It doesn’t mean you’ll be here forever, it just means you’re here now. In this moment. And this moment, like all moments, too shall pass.


How To Accept Where You Are


A simple way to accept where you are, especially during a difficult moment, is to take a deep breath, relax your shoulders, and repeat the mantra, “This is where I am. And that’s okay.”  You might find yourself wandering off into a mental internal dialogue that goes something like this:

“This is where I am. And that’s okay. Ugh. This is where I am. It sucks, dammit. I hate where I am. It friggin’ hurts. I should know better. But this is where I am. And I guess that has to be okay. It sure doesn’t feel okay. But this is where I am. I don’t want to be here. And that’s okay. I hate my family. That’s an awful thought. I can’t believe that’s how I feel right now. I love them, I just can’t stand them right now. This is where I am. And that’s okay. Hating my family right now is okay. I’m so ashamed to even be here right now. This is where I am. And that’s okay. I can love myself where I am, even if I’m mad at myself. This is where I am. And that’s okay.”

You could think this out, write it out, sing it out or feel it out. The idea is to GET it out. No matter what other words come up, intermittently throw in the mantra, “This is where I am. And that’s okay.”

If you know Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT, aka tapping) or Ho’oponopono, throw one of those into the mix as well. Click here to watch a short video about EFT and how to tap. And here’s an explainer video on Ho’oponopono, below. This is part of my 7 Day Self-Love Challenge for Sensitive Souls but you can watch it free here. 



It’s not about desperately grasping for spiritual tools to change where we are, it’s about practicing acceptance of where we are and self-love by utilizing the spiritual tools we know. 

The energetic difference of each intent is drastic and makes all the difference. 

Don’t use your spiritual practices as cloaks to disguise your true feelings in the moment. 


Are You Spiritually Unworthy?


Often, we spiritual students use spiritual ideals as yet another reason why we’re unworthy. It’s bad enough that we don’t feel good enough in the outside world, we also tell ourselves we’re not good enough in the inner, spiritual world. We don’t fit society’s ideals of “good enough” and we create spiritual ideals of “good enough” that we don’t fit either.

We expect ourselves to be loving all the time, happy all the time, centered all the time, and when we’re not, we feel bad, guilty, weak, ashamed. “That’s crazy,” you might be thinking, “I know I can’t be all that all the time.” Sounds irrational, but this is often an unconscious expectation. If you don’t think this is true, the next time you’re not being loving, happy or centered, pay attention to the thoughts and feelings that arise within you. There will either be a negative beratement or judgement of yourself or an attempt to change how you feel or both. 

Holding yourself to an unrealistic standard adds a layer of pain onto the pain you’re already feeling from not being loving, happy or centered. 

Trying to be a good, worthy spiritual person is a form of control. It’s yet another way we grasp for a sense of control in our lives. Believe it or not, constantly struggling with our sense of self-worth is also a form of control.

If we are constantly searching for happiness, worthiness, spiritual growth or anything, at least we’re doing something, and in that doing, we feel like we have a sense of control. And this sense of control distracts us from the truth of our being. 

Give yourself a break. 

Go easy on yourself.

Let go of control and surrender.

This is where you are.

And it’s okay.

10 ridiculously simple things to do to feel better while you’re stuck at home

My man is going crazy. The teenager already visited crazy on her birthday last week. She’s an extrovert and loves being with friends, making noise and doing social things. But for her 17th birthday, she was stuck at home with “the boomers” as she calls us “old” folks.

There are 6 chairs around our dining room table, and only one was occupied as she sat there with a lonely, planted smile, watching her dad and I sing happy birthday, carrying the candle-lit cake to the table and trying our hardest to make it a happy occasion for her. There was togetherness and connection, but no matter how many friends’ faces were live on her phone’s screen, singing along, the 5 empty chairs with no bodies in them spoke profoundly louder than our singing could ever cover up. 

She made the best of it, but we all knew that’s what she was doing: making the best of it, rather than truly enjoying it for what it was. 

My man, like most everyone else, has also been making the best of it. Being at home, not working, can’t go anywhere, locked down. 

Feeling trapped. Helpless. Stuck. 

He’d been doing great, and at first, was truly enjoying it. We have new wall colors, refinished furniture, updated bathroom cabinets and a new sealed driveway, among other home improvement projects he’s been wanting to do forever but didn’t have time. Finally, they’re all done. 

And now it’s getting to him. 

Some days you make the best of it and some days, well… you just give up and watch TV all day. 

Me, on the other hand… between you, me and the rest of the people in this corner of the internet who stumbles on this blog…. I’m loving it.

The quiet. The calm. The slower pace. 

This is my heaven. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wished time could stop for a moment so I can catch my breath. 

And here we are, breath caught. 

Part of the reason I enjoy it is because I’m an introvert, I love solitude and quiet. The other part is because I trust that this is not a forever-demic. This too shall pass. Like every other challenge we face in our lives from the day we were born to the day we die, it too shall pass. I am still me, no matter what’s going on around me, and knowing this, I remain centered and grounded.

Despite this inner knowing, there are some things I’ve been consistently doing since the first day we got locked down to keep my sanity as well as a sense of “me”. I may not be able to control what’s happening around the world but I can control my own sense of well-being, my own actions throughout the day and my own energy. It doesn’t take much. 

In fact, you might be searching for that ONE powerful new thing you can do that will magically make everything better or that ONE profound never-heard-before nugget of truth that once you hear it, will instantaneously take away all your anxiety, stress, helplessness and pain. 

But sometimes (and usually) the most powerful transformation occurs from the ordinary actions we do every day, consistently. 

While everyone’s looking for that one big breakthrough that will create massive change in their lives forevermore, I’ll give you 10 small, easy actions you can do TODAY that will change your day, one day at a time, day after day after day, through the COVID-19 stay at home orders and hopefully, this is the beginning of a movement that leads toward more self-love, self-care and self-kindness.  


Here are 10 ridiculously simple things you can do to feel better while you’re stuck at home:


1. Get dressed

Every day. Don’t just put on your “day pajamas” or your “lounge-around-the-house sweats”. Put on real clothes, as if you were going out in public. This includes a new pair of underwear.

2. Put on makeup

In the morning, every day. If you don’t usually wear makeup, at least wash your face. If you’re a man who typically shaves your face, keep shaving regularly. 

3. Brush your hair

Every day. Don’t just put it up in a ponytail after you wake up. If you prefer to ponytail it, at least brush it first. 

4. Take a shower

However often you typically shower, keep doing it. For some, that’s every day. For others, it’s every other day. Keep your usual showering schedule as if you were still going out to work, to eat, to shop, etc.

5. Move your body

Every day. It doesn’t have to be an hour long intense sweat-filled workout, unless you like that sort of thing. It could be 20 jumping jacks or 10 push ups or a walk around the block with the dogs. It could be a couple of yoga poses, floor stretches, or putting on a good song and dancing like no one’s watching. Walking from the bed to the couch does not count. If for health reasons, you can’t get out of bed, imagine you have an angel holding your ankles, pulling your legs toward the foot of the bed, and another angel holding your wrists, pulling your arms toward the head of the bed. Feel that stretch multiple times a day, elongating your body in opposite directions, reaching into the earth as well as the sky. 

6. Drink water

A lot of it. Every day. It’s easy to forget to drink water especially when the days and hours blend in to each other. Dehydration makes you feel lethargic and tired, which doesn’t help your mood when you’re trying to “make the best of things.”

7. Get outside

Every day. It could be a simple act of stepping outside your front door, back patio or balcony. Breathe in the air that’s being given to you freely from the earth and its atmosphere. Look up into the sky and take in its expansiveness. 

8. Connect with nature

Every day. At worst, sit for a moment with a potted plant in your house, water it, groom it, try to feel the life force flowing through it.  At best, go outside and walk barefoot in the grass, hug a tree, take a hike, listen to the birds.

9. Connect with yourself

Take a moment, every day, to check in with yourself. This could be a quick “hello, how are you?” in the mirror as you’re doing steps 2 & 3. Make sure you wait for the answer. It might surprise you. Or throughout the day, make a point to stop what you’re doing and simply bring your awareness to yourself, take a deep breath and feel your lungs expanding, then release. It seems simple, but often we move through our day on autopilot and forget to be mindful and present to ourselves. There’s a great saying, “check yourself before you wreck yourself.”

10. Thank God

Every night. If you don’t believe in God, thank the Universe, the Divine, Source, Spirit, Life Force, energy, whatever. It doesn’t matter. The point is as you go to bed every night, thank SOMETHING greater than yourself. Maybe you’re thankful the world’s most boring day ended, or maybe you’re thankful you made it through another difficult day or maybe you’re truly thankful for this life. Doesn’t matter. Thank God, even if you don’t want to. You might even think in defiance, “I don’t believe in you and I don’t want to thank you but Tree told me I have to, so here I am, thank you God for nothin’!” And believe it or not, that’s sufficient. When we consciously acknowledge a power (or even a disbelief in a power) greater than ourselves, we are expanding our awareness outside our puny little self, outside our puny little life, and in so doing, we become greater than the puny little beliefs and stories we’ve created about who we are and what this life is all about. And as our perspective broadens beyond this physical reality, we begin to realize everything is in perfect, divine order and we are perfect, divine beings. 


Don’t underestimate the power of small, ordinary actions done consistently over a period of time. Transforming our lives is a daily practice and it doesn’t take moving behemoth mountains. Sometimes, more often than not, one tiny little act can have the power to catapult us toward the massive transformation we seek.

As one of my clients said to me this week, “In a gesture of kindness and love to myself, I got dressed and put on makeup today.”

Sometimes that’s all we need.