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Soul Mates and Soul Contracts

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

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

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

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

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

 

WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO MEET A SOULMATE

 

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the decades to keep it clean, functional and thriving, fixing and updating things here and there as they become outdated.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

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

I expanded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WHAT IS A SOULMATE?

 

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

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

and/or 

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

 

WHAT IS A SOUL CONTRACT?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

SPIRITUAL TETHERS

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Positive Thinking Becomes Dangerous (Warning: Bloody TreeDoodle)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE POWER OF EMOTIONAL CLEARING TO INDUCE POSITIVE THINKING

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE HARM AND DANGER OF POSITIVE THINKING

 

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

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

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

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

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

In order to let go, you must flow. 

Better?

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

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

HOW TO MOVE NEGATIVE OR DENSE ENERGY THROUGH YOU

 

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

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

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

So how do we let go?

We let go by letting them flow. 

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

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

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

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

 

THREE TIPS TO HELP YOU RELEASE NEGATIVE THOUGHT & EMOTION

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Are You Taking on the Suffering of the World?

Hopeless. Discouraged. Helpless. 

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

“Terrified to my bones.”

“Suffocating, heavy and exhausted.”

“Waves of deep sadness arising out of nowhere.”

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

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

It’s not viruses, diseases or pandemics.

It’s not crooked politicians, government or bureaucracy.

It’s not racial, economic or civic unrest. 

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

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

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

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

 

THE ROOT OF ALL SUFFERING

 

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

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

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

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

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

And human. 

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

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

 

THE END OF SUFFERING

 

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

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

It doesn’t mean we don’t hurt. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Five simple ways to get in touch with your inner being 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s free. It works. It’s easy.

 

ABOUT HIRING AN EXPERT TO HELP YOU END YOUR SUFFERING

 

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

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

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

Tune in to your own intuition and heal yourself. 

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

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

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

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

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

If you want to stop suffering, start souling. 

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

Tune into it.

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

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

A client called me last week in a panic. 

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

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

Externally, nothing extraordinary happened. 

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

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

It was all just too much.

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

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

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

Too much everyone else, not enough HER. 

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

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

A moment of ME. 

Not mom. Not honey. Not you. 

Not anyone else but ME. 

 

Unhealthy Boundaries

 

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

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

When I try to set boundaries, I feel:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is an example of unhealthy boundary setting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Healthy Boundaries

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

We’re helping everyone by setting healthy boundaries.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Guilt does not mean you’re doing something wrong.

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

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

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

Beliefs, both conscious and unconscious, such as:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

How to set healthy boundaries

 

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

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

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

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

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

Knowledge is valuable but action is transformative. 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Praise yourself for finally doing it.

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

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

It only gets easier and easier from this point forward.

When Everyone Else Seems Happy Except You

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

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

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

One story, two completely different angles.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

But my friend isn’t wrong. 

I am truly happy now. 

AND I have challenges and struggles.

 

Happiness isn’t an absence of problems or challenges.

 

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

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

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

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

 

WHO YOU ARE is a soul having a human experience. 

 

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

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

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

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

When the world is too much…

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

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

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

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

It’s our time to wake up.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

The Universe works in powerful ways.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

There is a term in carpentry called Sistering.

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

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

Do you know what they call that?

A Sister Joist.

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

Glennon Doyle

NY Times Bestselling Author

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are never alone.

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

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

Always.

In all ways. 

 

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. 

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS GUIDE

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.” **

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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About them apples – bad apple or rotten tree?

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

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

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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

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How to process your racist tendencies and still love yourself

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Now what? How to move forward

“BUT I’M NOT RACIST OR UNCONSCIOUSLY BIASED”

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.

Nope.

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. 

ABOUT THEM APPLES – BAD APPLE OR ROTTEN TREE?

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.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO FULLY OWN YOUR ROLE IN THE BROKEN SYSTEM

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.

HOW THE MIND WORKS (AND WHY WE REJECT THE IDEA OF SYSTEMIC RACISM)

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.”  

4 COMMON SAYINGS YOU THINK ARE INNOCENT BUT ARE ACTUALLY BIASED AND HURTFUL

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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

HOW TO PROCESS YOUR RACIST TENDENCIES AND STILL LOVE YOURSELF

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:

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What don't I know?

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What do I know?

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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.

Emptied. 

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…

NOW WHAT? HOW TO MOVE FORWARD

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

LISTEN

ADVOCATE

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.

Listen.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,

Tree

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. 

HERE.

It’s in you. 

Not everyone-else-except-you.

YOU.

It’s now. 

Not later-when-you’re-worthy.

NOW.

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.

Rumi

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.

Listen. 

Feel. 

Touch.

Love.

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.

My best free resources for empaths during COVID-19 craziness

Dear beautiful, strong sensitive soul,

Yes, that’s YOU. Beautiful. Strong. Sensitive. You may not feel very beautiful or strong right now, and probably feel more sensitive than ever, but if you’re reading this, I’m talking to YOU, specifically. 

I know times are extremely difficult right now. Maybe you have little children at home demanding your constant attention and your partner doesn’t understand your need for space and you’re going crazy trying to find one. measly. SECOND. for yourself, because if you don’t you’re going to self-combust from emotional exhaustion.  

I spoke to a client yesterday who had to literally hide in the laundry room closet and whisper during our entire 1 hour coaching call because she didn’t want her kids, ages 4 and 7, to find her. Don’t worry, dad was home watching them and they were safe, but she hadn’t been able to get her own quiet, uninterrupted me-time in 2 months. At the end of the day, she does this:

Or maybe you live alone with too much me-time and you feel isolated and lonely, craving connection with humanity above all else, someone to witness and acknowledge your existence. 

Or maybe you’re somewhere in between both but you’re absorbing waaaaaaay too much fear, anxiety and suffering from the world. You’re worried about money, crying for the sick and dying, and feeling completely overwhelmed right now, like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.

In any case, I see you. 

I know you’re hurting. I know you’re trying your best to stay positive. I know you’re doing all the calming techniques you’ve learned, deep breathing, protective bubbles, meditating, self-care… 

And I know you feel like you’re failing. 

I know you’re beating yourself up for not being better at this. 

I know you’re confused, angry, afraid. Sad, grieving and anxious.

And I also know you’re incredibly strong, powerful and resilient.  

Even if you don’t feel or know this for yourself. 

No, I’m not talking to the OTHER people reading this, I’m talking to YOU!

If you’re reading this, I’m talking to you. No exceptions. Period. End of story.

Trust me, those I’m not talking to have already given up on reading this post. They stopped reading after the first line. You, however, you’re still reading. So yes, I’m talking to you. Wanna know what that person looks like who I’m talking to? Look in the mirror. 

You strong, beautiful, resilient soul, you!

It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to not feel strong. 

It’s okay to feel like the whole world is crumbling right now, with you as the epicenter. 

It’s okay. 

If all you ever get from me is the deep knowing that you are truly okay – exactly as you are right now – and the world is truly okay – exactly as it is right now, and you and the world are deeply, DEEPLY loved and cherished, then I would’ve done my job. 

With that said, here are some free resources, tips, tricks, techniques and my best advice over the years about dealing with your emotions, stress, depression, anxiety and more. Please note that some of these links will take you to other sites I’ve written for. 

 

FREE RESOURCES

 

Feel broken? Click here to read my love letter to you.

 

Want to stop being so sensitive? Click here to learn how.

 

Want to understand why empaths are prone to depression? Click here to watch my explanation (video). 

 

What could possibly be spiritual about COVID-19? Click here to discover the answer. 

 

Want to move through the pain of a tragedy? Click here to learn how.

 

Want to help someone else through their emotional pain? Click here to learn the most powerful way to help someone else through emotional pain. (link goes to Tiny Buddha, an external site)

 

Having a hard time with your overwhelming emotions? Click here to read my ultimate emotional survival guide for empaths and sensitive souls. There are some grounding techniques to help you stabilize your fluctuating emotions. No need to download it, it’s all there in the link. 

 

Feeling disheartened? Click here to learn my TreeBreath technique and get back to calm.

 

Being triggered by family members? Click here to learn why and how to stop.

 

Absorbing other people’s negative, draining energy? Click here to learn about mood bubbles and how to stop.

 

Wondering where God is during all this craziness? Click here to find out where God is during a tragedy. (link goes to an external site)

 

Overwhelmed by how you feel? Click here to discover what’s more important than how you feel.

 

Just want to escape all this and smile for a bit? Click here for some whimsical Stick Girl doodles. 

The Spiritual Call of Covid-19

The COVID-19 epidemic is testing many of us. Not just the virus itself, but more so, the drama that we create around it and the stories we tell about it (true or not). 

The virus in and of itself is nothing more than a living organism that wants to survive, like each of us. It’s not evil. It’s not bad. It’s not a curse.

It’s nature.

Like all of our “problems,” it’s not the thing, event or circumstance itself that’s the problem. It’s our minds labeling those things, events or circumstances as “bad” and therefore making it out to be a problem. It’s our reaction to it. 

The deeper truth is that things simply are, it’s our egos and minds (what I call our “cloaks”) that add a good or bad distinction to it. 

Consider this quote from Buddha:

In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.

Buddha

The reality is that the sky simply exists as it is. Whether it’s cloudy, rainy, clear or sunny, whether you’re facing one direction or another, whether you’re inside and can’t see it or outside looking at it, the sky simply is.

It’s our judgements, labels and stories we tell around it that makes it “good” or “bad”. We complicate “what simply is” with our opinions, beliefs, desires and judgments, adding a chaotic web of mental and emotional turmoil that doesn’t need to exist.  

Does that mean we proceed with life as usual and ignore all the warnings? 

No, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. By accepting the situation as is, we become more calm in the face of panic. 

Panic causes tunnel vision. Calm acceptance of danger allows us to more easily assess the situation and see the options.

Simon Sinek

NY Times Bestselling Author

With our calm acceptance, we become more conscious and mindful, bringing an energy of presence that wasn’t there before, which helps the situation rather than causing more harm. 

 

And then we begin to see that COVID-19 is a spiritual call to WAKE UP. 

~ To pay attention to our energy, what we’re receiving and transmitting. How have we been contributing to the mass fear, anxiety and panic, not only during this epidemic but leading up to it in the years before?

~ To amp up our self-care practices. We already knew we needed to practice better self-care but we didn’t make the time for it. Now we’re being forced to. 

~To “shelter in place” quite literally, meaning to go inside. To stop seeking fulfillment and answers from the external, and find shelter within, deepening your inner relationship with Source, God, Divinity, whatever you want to call it. The literal definition of “shelter” is “a place that provides protection, a place of safety and retreat.” I can’t think of a better shelter than in the house of God. This is not a call to religion, this is a call to faith.  

~ To bring unification to the divisive energy we’ve been creating, by viewing humanity as a unified whole rather than fragmented, separate clusters of skin color, political beliefs, economic status, sexual preference, etc. This includes the separation we create by labeling ourselves as “highly sensitive” or “empath” from those who are not. 

~ To change our unconscious, complacent behaviors and bring more present-moment awareness, mindfulness and intentional living into our daily actions. 

 

We are being called, now more than ever before, to pay attention, to broaden our perspective and to deepen our knowing. 

 

Many of you are being challenged in multiple ways… your finances are suffering, your heart is bleeding, your relationships are wavering, your dreams are crumbling.

Life, as we know it, is unraveling around us. You may feel like you’re unraveling, yourself. 

Make no mistake, this is the ascension process. 

It’s time. 

We’re on the precipice of massive change, evolutionary growth and energetic shifting.

Trust the process. Trust your inner calling. Trust that your soul chose to be here during this very exciting time of our collective burst of evolutionary growth. It’s the Big Bang all over again, except this time, spiritually and energetically. 

If you haven’t already, start practicing the art of witnessing. You can learn how to do it here. 

What are you pretending not to know because you’re afraid?

Eight years ago, my life coach called bulls**t on my excuses. He was rather harsh about it and I remember feeling hurt, angry and invalidated by him. We were talking about what I wanted to do with my life, or rather, I was talking about how I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t know my true purpose and was frustrated by my lack of clarity and direction. 

In general, I knew I wanted to write, I knew I wanted to help others and I knew it had to be somewhere in the spiritual self-help realm, but I had no idea where to start or what to do, specifically, and how the fulfillment of that desire looked. 

He had let me go on and on and I was crying, earnestly explaining to him in frustration that if I only knew what I wanted, I’d go after it with everything in me. I felt completely and utterly stuck in my life, and because I didn’t know what I wanted, I didn’t know how to get unstuck. Over the years, I had started a few businesses and followed a few ideas, but would inevitably lose interest and move onto something else. I couldn’t fully commit to something if I didn’t know for sure that’s what I really wanted, I told him.  

Suddenly, after listening quietly for 10 minutes, he finally interrupted and said, “Bullshit!”

I was shocked. He’d never cussed at me before, let alone speak so harshly. I felt like he was calling me a liar. Up until then, I thought he understood me, I thought he was trying to help me. And I immediately defended myself and my perspective, trying to convince him to see my point of view. 

“But I really DON’T KNOW what I want,” I stressed, as if emphasizing certain words would increase my believability factor. “If I knew, don’t you think I’d be following it right now? You think I LIKE being stuck?”

I”m sure my face was all red and there was probably a vein popping out of my forehead. 

I really believed what I was saying. I truly felt that he was wrong. And I felt someone I trusted was now blaming me for something I honestly had no idea about. Maybe other people he coached knew and maybe they were in denial. But not me, I really didn’t know. 

Or so I believed.

I left our session feeling exhausted, misunderstood and offended. He couldn’t convince me that I was pretending not to know because I was afraid. And I couldn’t convince him that I really didn’t know. I truly believed that I didn’t know and I believed that once I did know, I would finally take committed action. But before then, I would remain stuck and paralyzed. Not out of fear, but out of lack of clarity, direction and purpose.  

I wasn’t self-aware enough back then to know that he was right. But I was at least aware enough to recognize that when I’m offended by someone or something, that’s an opportunity to look deeper within and go beyond the ego. Only the ego gets offended. The soul never does. So when I’m offended, it’s a sign that something’s stirring underneath the surface. Fortunately, I was able to reflect and go deeper to discover that he was absolutely right.

I was afraid. 

And fear, disguised ever-so-convincingly as lack of clarity, was holding me back from living my purpose. 

 

WHY WE LIVE IN FEAR (AND OFTEN DON’T EVEN KNOW IT)

 

Since you’re a sensitive and empathic being like me, you’re likely familiar with fear too. And since you’re a conscious, curious and self-reflective person, you’ve likely noticed the ways in which fear holds you back, not only from the little things in life, like going to social gatherings where you don’t know anyone, but also from the bigger things, like following your dreams, pursuing your passions and living your purpose. 

If you feel stuck in life, I urge you to keep reading as you may uncover some truths about your own beliefs. 

As sensitive beings, we not only feel our own fears, we also absorb other people’s fears. And since most people live in a default state of fear, everywhere we go, we’re surrounded by fear. In fact, it’s so pervasive and prevalent that we don’t even realize we’re afraid because it’s become our normal state of being. It’s only when we brush up against the boundaries of our comfort zones and do something new (or get challenged by someone else) that we often feel fear rise. But make no mistake, fear was there before you felt it, you’re just so used to the everyday, ordinary state of fear that you don’t notice it. 

At any given moment, whether we consciously think about it or feel it or not, we’re afraid. It’s an underlying, insidious layer of smog that creeps up during the day, almost all day, every day, informing our thoughts, decisions and actions. 

And the worst part is we don’t even know it. 

Sometimes we’re quiet and present enough to be aware of it, but most of the time, we’re one adversity away from crumbling and we’re too afraid (or ashamed, an aspect of fear) to admit it. 

What if your husband leaves you? What if your wife falls in love with another man? What if something bad happened to your child? What if you lose your job? What if your best friend betrays you? What if your business fails? 

Can you really take one more hit from life? Hasn’t life hit you enough times, knocked you down on the ground, kicked, spit and stomped on you enough

It’s because of this fear that we live life in defense-mode, always at the ready, waiting for the other shoe to drop, never fully living in the present moment. 

 

HOW FEAR RAN MY RELATIONSHIPS

 

Around the same time that my coach called bulls**t on me, after a life-long self-inflicted pattern of dating men who always ended up cheating on me, I swore that if the guy I was then in a relationship with betrayed me, I’d never, ever trust men again and I knew in my heart that I simply could not emotionally survive yet another betrayal. I lived in fear, every day, without realizing it, that he would fall in love with another woman. Back then, I didn’t know my own power so I pretended it didn’t bother me when he stayed out until 3:00 in the morning with his female “friends”, and I looked the other way when he rubbed a woman’s bare chest at a party in front of me, and I pretended to be okay with opening up our relationship so that it meant he couldn’t cheat on me. After all, if it’s an open relationship, then it’s not a betrayal, right? 

Yea, I know. Squirm.

I did many things that went against who I am and how I truly felt because I was afraid. I was afraid that if I had to overcome yet one more relationship, that would be the last of me. I’d die of heartbreak. 

Well, it happened. 

Everything except the dying part, of course. Because I’m still here writing this article now. 

Or am I?

🙂

The truth is I actually did die. After a long grieving period in darkness, desperation and pain, I found the real me and vowed never again to live in fear. The part of me that lived in fear died and in her place emerged a stronger, more authentic and self-loving woman.  

In what ways is fear controlling your life, like it controlled mine and my relationships? 

What are you pretending not to know because you’re afraid? 

 

THE MANY LAYERS AND EXCUSES OF FEAR

 

Think of fear as being multi-layered rather than a one-dimensional feeling that’s either there or it’s not. For most of us, it’s almost always there, we just don’t always feel it. Sometimes it’s a thin layer, like a surface mist we barely notice, and sometimes it’s thicker, like a hard baseball inside your gut. We notice the dense layers when something big or drastic happens, like a car accident, and we viscerally feel it in our entire being as our car spins out of control. Or when we’re hiking and suddenly see a snake on the path, our stomach gets tight and heavy.  

But the day-to-day kind of fear, the one that we don’t really notice, this is the kind of fear that does the greatest damage because it holds us back from fulfilling our potential, day after day, year after year, and we don’t even know it. 

It disguises itself in many clever ways, such as lack of motivation, lack of time and lack of clarity. 

 

Ever said any of the below?

I want to write a book but I don’t have time. 

I want to start a blog but I don’t know how.

I want to start a business but I’m not clear on what kind of business.

I want to fulfill my purpose but I don’t know what it is.

I want to go after my dreams but I don’t know where to start.

I want to take action but I can’t get motivated. 

I want to speak my truth but who’s going to listen?

I have so many ideas, I don’t know which one to follow.

 

That’s all fear talking.

 

“But Treeeeee, I really DON’T have time!” 

Nope. It’s not lack of time, it’s fear. 

“No, for real, Tree. I work all day then I pick up the kids at school, take them to soccer, then I come home and cook dinner, then I help them with their homework, do the dishes, laundry, clean the house, put them to bed, read them a story, and by the time they’re asleep, I’m exhausted and have no energy to think, let alone be creative and write.”

Nope. That’s fear talking, making up all those seemingly real and convincing excuses.

“But Tree, it’s NOT an excuse, it’s my life!”

Yep, you’re right. 

That is your life right now, run by fear. 

Richard Bach, in one of my favorite books, Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, wrote:

Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.

Richard Bach

(BTW, I’ve been reading this book at least once a year every year without fail for the past 25 years. Highly recommend it.)

 

HOW TO RECOGNIZE YOUR FEARS

 

If you resonated with any of the statements above, here’s my suggestion on how to kick fear to the curb. Allow Stick Girl to show you her very professional kung-fu style kick-fear-to-the-curb stance:

1. Sit down alone with a pen and paper. This exercise is better on paper, not on a smartphone, tablet or computer. In fact, turn off all those devices so there’s no distractions.

2. Start with a rapid-fire list of all your fears, meaning don’t stop to think about it, just write as many as you can until you find yourself slowing down and having to think about the next one. This is what I call vomiting on the page, it’s a mental dump. You’re basically dumping everything from your brain, your conscious and subconscious, out onto the paper. These may or may not be your real fears… but in order to get to your real fears, we first need to pick away the layers of trash on top of them. 

3. Reread your list and one by one, close your eyes and repeat each fear silently in your mind. Sit with it for a moment and sense any energy that might come from it. You might feel nothing, you might feel a slight almost imperceptible shift or you might feel a sudden heaviness in your stomach or chest. If you feel anything at all, circle that fear. This has to be a feeling energetically, not just a mental thought in your head. Go down your list until you’ve done this with every single fear listed.

4. One by one, take each circled fear and expand on it, dive deeper into it. In what ways does this fear show up in your life? What thoughts do you have around it? Write whatever comes up. Don’t judge it, just write it out. Again, do a mental dump.

5. Once you finish writing about each fear, when you feel like you’ve written enough, close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. Center yourself into the seat of the soul, shift your perspective from the human you into the soul you, the you that you were before you came into this human body. You know who that is. If not, read this article. Once you’re in the witness seat, read what you just wrote, only this time, you’re detached from the myriad of thoughts and emotions and drama that comes up because you’re not the same one who just wrote this all down. That was your human persona, your cloak, your ego. But it’s not you. You’re a soul. The soul of you has no fear. 

 

There’s no need to analyze each fear, figure out how you got it, who gave it to you, when it started, etc. Taking the witness seat dissolves all need to “work on it”. The only thing you have to work on is getting better and better at stepping back, away from all the mental noise, stories, thoughts, beliefs and judgments, centering yourself into the seat of the soul so that you can simply observe all the chaos without identifying with it and getting lost in it. 

This is the shortcut through your fears (and ALL your problems, by the way). By recognizing they aren’t YOU, they’re just part of your egoic cloak, they lose their power and grip over you. Then it no longer matters what fears you have and you don’t have to worry about facing them and pushing through them, you only need to be aware of them as they surface, step back into witness mode and observe as they flow through you. 

Fear can be your greatest ally, warning you when you’re in physical danger, and it can also be your greatest enemy, causing you to remain small and live an unfulfilled life. 

 

EXPANSION VS CONSTRICTION

 

If you have big dreams, even if you don’t know what that vision looks like specifically, but you know that you’re destined for something more than what you’ve been living, take a moment to FEEL the expansiveness of that desire and knowing. When you let fear run you, it feels constrictive. When you’re identified with the ego’s fear, there’s a sense of constriction, hesitancy and limitation. When you’re identified with your soul, there’s a sense of expansion, boldness and boundlessness.  

It’s the same kind of feeling when you learn something new. Have you ever read a spiritual book and learned a new concept that blows your mind? Or read something that resonates a deep truth and suddenly you feel bigger than you did a moment before. It’s similar to the feeling of an aha moment, as Oprah Winfrey says, which is  “a resonation. It’s a resonating with what is somehow buried, or suppressed.” 

When you resonate with something, it feels expansive. When you resist something, it feels constrictive. Take a moment to feel the difference. Get quiet and sense it. And next time you’re faced with a decision, move toward the choice that feels more expansive than constricting. 


 

If you have a powerful desire to serve in a bigger way, to use your sensitive and empathic gifts to help others, or to create a more meaningful life for yourself, but you’re afraid or have a bunch of reasons (aka excuses) why you’re not doing it now, listen to my talk with The Shift Network at the Evolved Empath Summit. [UPDATE: This event is over] 

See details below.

Finding Courage to Share Your Heart’s Message So You Can Serve in a Bigger, Bolder Way

March 10, 2pm – 2:45pm Pacific Daylight Time

Hosted by Bevin Niemann

Deep down, you’ve always known you were meant to do something big, to touch lives and impact the world. But others have criticized you for being sensitive, dismissed your feelings and didn’t understand you. This caused you to withdraw inward and hide your soul’s deepest callings from others, and yourself. If you feel like you have an important message to share but you’re afraid to put yourself out there, this session will help you break out of your fear and fulfill your heart’s call to serve.

In This Session:

  • Three common beliefs that keep you stuck. These clever beliefs disguise themselves as valid truths but they’re nothing more than excuses to keep you small and safe, the worst of them being “I don’t know” (what I want, how to start or what to do).
  • Two energetic shifts to shatter in-the-moment fears, doubts and blocks that keep you from taking action. Anytime you come up against a limiting thought or belief, use these techniques to instantly reignite the power inside you and move forward boldly.
  • How your challenges have prepared you to serve humanity. Your struggles have shaped you into the teacher, leader, healer and lightworker that you are. Tap into your life’s story so you can redeem your pain and transform it into a source of good.

To our expansion,

Tree

[UPDATE: This event is over] 

 

Step Into Your Calling by Using Your Empathic Gifts to Discover Your Passion & Purpose

[UPDATE: This event is over]

I’m so excited to announce that I’ve been invited back to speak at this year’s Evolved Empath Summit with The Shift Network! Being a part of last year’s summit was incredible. I not only learned so much myself, I also had the opportunity to spread my message beyond my usual reach and teach hundreds of sensitive souls to step into their own empathic power!

This year, I’m doing something a bit out of my comfort zone. Instead of talking about emotions and emotional resilience, I’m going to talk about answering your soul’s purpose and calling, getting out there and sharing your message despite your fear of being seen.

Many empaths isolate themselves and remain small because they’ve been criticized so often for being too sensitive…

… or they retreat and contract inward just to avoid absorbing the unrelenting input of the “noise” and judgments outside themselves…

They feel a deep calling to help humanity, to serve others and to create authentic work, but they’re afraid because they’ve been bashed down for their own sensitivity, beliefs and ideas. And so they remain quiet… hidden… and their light inside dims. They end up working jobs that have nothing to do with their true soul’s calling and they feel unfulfilled and without meaning and purpose.

I did this too. For most of my life, I was afraid to be seen. What did I have to offer the world? Who am I to think I could help others? I’m too broken… I’m not good enough or smart enough, I thought.

Publishing a blog post with my deepest thoughts, vulnerable stories and painful experiences was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Writing was easy in the comfort of my own home and safety of my own being, but publishing it to the world on the internet? It used to take me 2 days to work up the courage to hit “publish” on an article!

But somewhere deep inside me, I knew that my story can help others like me. I knew that my painful life experiences happened for a reason, beyond my own lessons learned. I knew I came here to serve others, to share my story and help people like me, like YOU, to feel not so alone.

To feel validated. Heard. Understood. Accepted.

And most of all… EMPOWERED.

Now, I don’t even cringe when I hit “publish” on a blog post. I don’t shrink back when someone asks me to do an interview. It doesn’t even faze me when I get negative or criticizing emails.

If you’re anything like I was before, it’s time to embrace your empathic nature as one of your greatest strengths and a truly powerful gift — rather than a burden — a brilliant light within yourself whose time has come to shine!

That’s why I’m thrilled to invite you to the Evolved Empath Summit from March 9-13, 2020 — an inspiring gathering of leading empathy experts, authors, and teachers who’ll guide you to discover the brilliance and purpose within your empathic gifts, so you can begin to share them with the world and become a beacon

… a powerful force paving the way to peace, equality, and more effective and loving ways to navigate our world.

See below for more information.

[UPDATE: This event is over]

Free Online Event
Evolved Empath Summit
March 9-13, 2020

Turn your Empathic Gifts into your greatest strengths

I’m honored to be among more than 25 of today’s leading empathy experts, authors, and inspiring teachers — including Anita Moorjani, Wendy De Rosa, Michael R. Smith, PhD, Judith Orloff, MD, Dr. Shariff Abdullah, Dr. Christine Page, Jean Haner, Julie Bjelland, and many more — helping you step further into unstoppable empowerment and own (and use) your empathic gifts.

I hope you’ll participate in this one-of-a-kind online gathering presented by The Shift Network.

During this empowering 5-day event, you’ll:

  • Discover how to strengthen and expand your empathic energy out into the world, instead of turning inward and contracting from other people’s energies
  • Unlock your purpose and unique contribution as an empath so you can do work that enhances your life (and the lives of others), rather than staying in a career that sucks the life out of you
  • Learn that putting yourself first rather than always taking care of others is not selfish, so you can let go of the martyr mentality
  • Start releasing rescuing and self-sacrificing patterns… allowing others to be with their own challenges
  • Begin to connect with a community of empaths so you know you’re not alone
  • Receive self-care tips to prevent sensory overload and help you deal with overwhelm, which can lead to addictions, overeating, anxiety, and exhaustion
  • Explore how to heal the sense of separation and increase your empathy by leading from a “We Are One” consciousness
  • Start to consider walking away from codependent relationships, so you can live the healthy independent life of your choice
  • Discover the importance of creating healthy emotional boundaries and working toward your wholeness by listening to and following your intuition
  • Know that what you’re doing makes a difference
  • Heal shame, guilt, greed, desire, and fear around money, wealth, and worthiness
  • Discover how to instantly change your energy and take charge of your life!
  • Understand at a profound level that you’re always protected when you’re connected to Divine Source energy
  • And much more…

Whether you’re newly aware of being an empath, or you’re already on the path toward wholeness and leadership… you’ll discover the tools and strategies you need to use your loving heart, strong mind, and passionate spirit to really make a difference on this planet.

Join me and the amazing gathering of other presenters as we illuminate the path for you to rise to your full potential and fulfill your highest mission and purpose.

[UPDATE: This event is over but you can discover similar current events at The Shift Network here]

Here’s a sample of what our transformational speakers will be sharing with you…

  • Let go of the burden of being an empath and embrace it as a great strength and gift — even as your superpower — with Anita Moorjani.
  • Strengthen your energetic boundaries in all areas of your life by building a strong sense of self in your energetic body with Wendy De Rosa.
  • Michael R. Smith, MD, will help you reframe your experience as an empath as a powerful way to replenish your soul and rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit… so you can be of service to others.
  • From Judith Orloff, MD, you’ll receive self-care practices, perspectives, and meditations to support empaths and sensitive people in offering compassion without shouldering the suffering of others.
  • With Dr. Shariff Abdullah, you’ll explore ways to perceive events differently, enabling you to work with intense situations, rather than be engulfed by them — and empowering you to become a masterful, joyful creator of your life.
  • Express the full light of your soul, as Dr. Christine Page illuminates the path of intuitive healing to help yourself and others become whole.
  • Jean Haner will guide you in visualizations and provide practices you can do every day to increase your awareness, consciously move your energy, and transform the way you feel and react.
  • Julie Bjelland will shed light on how highly sensitive people (HSPs) can properly balance their nervous system… increasing their sense of wellbeing and allowing their many gifts to emerge and be shared with the world.
  • Discover how to heal empathically transmitted illness and pain at the root level with Dave Markowitz.
  • And last but not least, if you’ve felt criticized or dismissed for the intensity of your emotions, I’ll show you how to listen to your heart’s calling to serve and find the courage to express your message in the world.

And many more…

See you there!

[UPDATE: This event is over]

How to stop being so sensitive

Photo by Cristian Newman

I remember visiting my sister’s house in my mid-twenties. My family had flown out there from different parts of the country for a holiday reunion. Early one morning, my mom, dad and sisters were gathered in the kitchen having coffee and catching up. As I walked down the stairs, before anyone saw me, I overheard my sister say, “Don’t talk about that when Tree wakes up, she’s overly sensitive.” 

 

Sensitivity had followed me around as a child and I wished I could learn how to stop being so sensitive. The world seemed to affect me more deeply than others. I cried when someone killed a spider. Certain topics, especially related to the mistreatment or suffering of innocent children and animals, were beyond painful. 

 

I felt betrayed by my sister, as if she’d just stabbed me in the back. It wasn’t that she called me too sensitive, it’s that I felt like she was calling me weak, and alerting everyone to tiptoe carefully when I was around so as not to tear my fragile thin skin.  

 

There’s one thing sensitive people hate and that’s the way other people treat them, as if they’ll break at the slightest upset, modifying their behavior and carefully edging around a topic, or worse, avoiding it altogether for fear the sensitive person might crumble to a million little pieces like Humpty Dumpty, never to be put back together again, if they said one wrong word.

 

Because highly sensitive people have an innate ability to deeply empathize with others and see their side of the story, I understood that my sister had good intentions. She was trying to protect me, she didn’t want my feelings to get hurt. 

 

Therein lies the problem: Trying to prevent a sensitive person from getting hurt is the very thing that hurts them.

 

When you treat someone like a fragile egg, they come to think of themselves as weak and flawed, and they not only become MORE sensitive, they develop unhealthy habits in an attempt to block their emotions, thinking it’s their emotions that are causing them to be sensitive. But in reality, emotions aren’t the cause of their sensitivity, it’s the doorway to their strength.

 

I’ll expand on that in a moment. But first, let’s talk about the cause of sensitivity.

 

Why am I so sensitive?

 

If you cry easily when you see someone else cry, take things personally when everyone else shrugs it off, or stew for days (or weeks or, let’s be honest, decades) over someone’s off-the-cuff comments or criticism, chances are you’ve probably asked yourself many times, “why am I so sensitive?” 

 

Here are a few reasons why:

 

1. You’re a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). It’s in your DNA. Approximately 20% of the world’s population has high Sensory Processing Sensitivity, a genetic trait that makes you hyper-responsive to physical, environmental, social and emotional stimuli, both internal and external. Your brain literally processes sensory information in a deeper cognitive way than those who have low Sensory Processing Sensitivity. 

 

2. You’re an Empath. It’s in your spiritual DNA. Empaths feel and absorb other people’s emotions, often as if they were their own. This makes us super susceptible to others’ energy, and empaths who have not yet learned how to manage their own energy are often exhausted and drained around others, making them even more sensitive.

 

3. You’re a deep thinker and feeler, by nature or nurture. Just because you’re sensitive, doesn’t mean you’re an HSP or an empath. Whether your parents raised you to think beyond the surface of things, or you were born wondering about the meaning of life, you could simply think and feel more deeply than the average person. Have you ever talked to someone and tried to “go deep” rather than having a superficial conversation and they just couldn’t go there? The fact that you even understand what I mean by “go deep” means you’re likely an emotionally intelligent deep thinker and feeler. 

 

4. Your hormones are out of balance. If you’re a woman, ever feel cranky, annoyed or at the verge of homicide when your partner even looks at you around that time of the month? That’s your hormones wreaking havoc on your system. We all understand the monthly madness, but sometimes, due to environmental, nutritional or physiological factors, our hormones are unbalanced on a daily basis regardless of our sex, causing our emotions to go rogue and flail (seemingly) out of our control.  

 

While it’s possible that all four of these are true for you, one or any combination of them could be causing you to be more sensitive than the rest of the world.  

 

Many of us struggle to not be so sensitive, especially in relationships, as our sensitivity is often reflected through and judged by those closest to us. It’s often their reactions to our sensitivity that seep into us, making us feel self-conscious and wrong. 

 

If you were home alone watching TV and a touching commercial came on that made you cry, you probably wouldn’t think much of your reaction. Your focus would be on the endearing message in the commercial. But if your partner or family were gathered in the living room and the same commercial made you cry, you might discreetly wipe away your tears, hoping no one noticed. Your focus would be on hiding your sensitivity. 

 

The fact that someone’s there to witness your tender heart makes you pay more attention to it. If they witness it in a loving, accepting way, you might start to realize that it’s not a bad thing. But being sensitive is not commonly accepted as a good thing in our society, and when someone witnesses it with judgment, we tend to absorb their judgment, take it on as our own, and we start to feel wrong. 

 

I can’t count the number of times my family has turned to me during a random TV show, movie or commercial and said flabbergasted, “Are you crying??” It used to bother me, but now I turn around and ask, “how can you not be crying??” It awes me how things don’t affect others. 

 

I can’t imagine not being touched deeply by simple things. I’ve come to love my sensitivity, I love crying, I love that I feel. It’s what makes this life so beautiful and full of grace, depth and love. 

 

How to stop being so sensitive

 

Like the image above, my deep emotions are what gives me power, balance and strength. 

 

But I wasn’t always that way. I didn’t always love my sensitivity or my deep emotions. I used to wonder how to stop being so sensitive, how to stop crying all the time, and why am I so sensitive emotionally? I saw my sensitivity as a weakness, not a superpower. 

 

Now I know better. 

 

But for those of you who aren’t quite there yet, here are some tips on how to stop being so sensitive emotionally. 

 

How to stop being so sensitive

 

Before we go further, it’s important to note that there’s nothing wrong with being sensitive. The fact that I’m about to give you some tips on how to stop being so sensitive doesn’t mean that you need to change or that something’s wrong with you or that you’re broken or flawed. These tips are purely to help you manage the parts of your sensitivity that affect your life negatively. Being sensitive is a powerful gift, but when our sensitivity takes over and gets the best of us, we can learn ways to tame the shadow aspects of our sensitivity and cast light on the darkness. 

 

For example, taking things deeply personally is a shadow aspect of sensitivity. When someone says an off-the-cuff comment and we take it in and let it affect us for days, weeks or months, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. But it’s important to know that being sensitive and taking things personally is NOT a package deal. While sensitive people tend to take things personally, they don’t have to. It’s not encoded in your DNA that you’ll forevermore take things personally simply because you’re highly sensitive. 

 

Taking things personally is merely a sign that you haven’t yet learned how to stand in your power. Nothing more, nothing less.

 

When you know your own power and stand firm in your own energy, no matter what’s happening outside you, whether someone’s intentionally criticizing you or simply making an innocent remark, you won’t take it personally and it won’t affect you negatively. You go from this…

 

how to stop taking things personally

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To this…

 

how to stop being so sensitive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re unaffected by what’s happening around you. You no longer react to everything based on the energy outside you, you stand firm in your own energy regardless of the energy people are throwing at you.

 

Here are 10 more common shadow aspects of being sensitive:

 

  1. Poor boundary setting
  2. Easily overwhelmed emotionally
  3. Energetically drained and exhausted around people
  4. People pleasing
  5. Insecure, lack of self-confidence & boldness
  6. Playing small in life (fear of being authentically seen)
  7. Alcohol, drug, porn or food addiction (anything to numb out)
  8. Incessant mental chatter 
  9. Taking on a victim or martyr mentality
  10. Chronic fatigue

 

The great news is that none of these are a life sentence for an empath or sensitive soul. They’re all manageable and you don’t have to struggle with them forever. In fact, there are practical and spiritual solutions to all of them. 

 

Over the next few months, I’ll write an article for some of these highlighting what I’ve done personally to turn these shadow aspects of my sensitivity around, and will offer simple techniques you can do yourself to help you become more of an empowered empath.  You can come back to this article and see updated links in each of the items above or if you don’t want to forget or miss them, sign up below for my email updates, and I’ll send them to your inbox as they’re posted. 

For now, let’s address your question of “how do I stop being so sensitive?”

 

The fact that you’re asking that question means that being sensitive is a problem for you, otherwise you wouldn’t want to change. It also means that you haven’t yet learned about the light side of being sensitive because all you know is the shadow. 

 

Once you get a glimpse of the amazing power of your sensitivity, your life will radically shift and you’ll discover your true purpose here as a sensitive soul. 

 

But before we can fly, let’s first learn to stand firmly, feet planted on the ground, rooted in our own powerful energy, so that we’ll never again be swept away by our own thoughts and emotions or other people’s energy. 

 

Let’s start by asking the right question.

 

Instead of asking, “how do I stop being so sensitive?” let’s ask, “how do I become more emotionally resilient?”

 

Take a moment and read that sentence again. 

 

Do you feel the slight shift in energy between the two questions? Chances are if you’re still reading this article, you’re highly tuned in to energy and can FEEL the difference between those two questions. You may not be able to explain it logically or put your finger on it, but you sense that each question vibrates differently, don’t you?

 

They just feel different, no matter how subtle the shift, you can feel it. One question feels a bit closed and weak, while the other is open and strong. 

 

Feel it?   

 

As an empath and sensitive soul, this is a simple lesson in the power of asking the right questions to align with expansive light energy that uplifts and supports your desire to grow from a place of positivity and inspiration rather than negativity, darkness and fear. While others won’t notice the difference (and have surely lost interest in this article by now), your internal energy tuning fork gets it. 

 

That’s why you’re still reading. If you don’t think you get it, if you’re sitting there wondering if you feel the difference or not, trust me, if you’re still here reading, you feel it. You may not be consciously aware of it because you’ve blocked out your intuition for so long and you’ve learned to numb your sensitivity and dull your energetic spidey senses, but I know that there’s no way you would be reading these words right now if something didn’t resonate inside for you. No one reads over 2000 words of an article who’s not resonating with something about it. 

 

Don’t believe me? Try reading this article. I can’t even get through 50 words before my eyes glaze over and I face plant onto my keyboard from boredom. Though it was the writer’s intent to write his most boring article yet and he succeeded, so yay, writer! Knowing his intent, you might find the article oddly hilarious. I did, but I still couldn’t get through it…. YAWN!  

 

But I digress. Back to our new question, “how do I become more emotionally resilient?” 

 

How to become emotionally resilient

 

Here’s a sneak peek of a video from my course, Emotional Resilience: How to Toughen Up Without Losing Your Soft, Sensitive Side, that explains what emotional resilience means. 

 

 

Now that you know what emotional resilience is, here are two fundamental steps in becoming emotionally resilient.

 

  1. Stop Identifying
  2. Start Observing

 

When you master these two steps, you master your energy. In fact, all you really have to master is step two because when you start observing yourself, identification generally stops on its own, it’s not something you have to actively stop. The mere act of observation dissipates identification automatically. It’s like turning on a light switch. You don’t have to actively fight the darkness, wrangle it to the ground and try to stop it, you simply have to turn on the light and the darkness immediately disappears. 

 

Step one is the darkness: Identifying. 

Step two is the light: Observing. 

 

Step One: Stop Identifying

 

Identifying with your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, stories, problems and even yourself is the cause of 99% of your suffering. 

 

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “why am I so sensitive to criticism,” it’s because you’re taking the criticism personally, you’re identifying with it, making it about you. When you identify with it and make it part of your identity, you replace your own innate power with that which you’re identifying with. 

 

In essence, you’re layering a false identity on top of who you really are. As we start our observation practice, we begin to see through the veil of the false identities we’ve come to believe in and our authentic, pure and powerful identities emerge into the consciousness of our being.  

 

The problem is that you’ve been covering up your real identity with false identities your entire life. You identify with things all day, every day, about practically everything. 

 

Something horrible happened to you when you were 6 years old and you identified with that. You made it about you. It’s become a part of who you are. You’re now that person who had a tragic event happen to them when they were 6 years old and everything about you and your life is informed by that event even though it’s 40 years later. 

 

You feel depression and you identify with it. You make it about you and now you’re that depressed person who goes to therapy, takes prescription meds and seeks help to get un-depressed but you never really understand WHY you’re so depressed, there’s no one, clear answer, it’s just a general sense of underlying depression.  

 

You feel stuck at your job and you identify with it. You make it about you and now you’re that person who’s struggling to break free from the shackles of a 9 to 5, find meaningful work and angry at the world for having sold out to a societal structure that values greed, power and money over love, kindness and service. 

 

Your partner says something insensitive and you identify with it. You make it about you and now you’re that person who’s insensitive partner doesn’t understand them or doesn’t care that they hurt your feelings and won’t acknowledge it, let alone apologize, and you wish they could be more sensitive, understanding and aware of your emotional needs. 

 

Any of those sound familiar?

 

Identifying with things means that you can’t separate yourself from the thing you’re identifying with. It becomes a part of your identity. In other words, if you’re feeling anger, instead of being a person who’s simply feeling the energy of anger flowing through them, unattached to the anger, you make it a part of your identity and you say things like, “I’m so angry!” You’re making it about YOU, when all along, the real YOU – the soul, who you really are – is perfectly fine. 

 

You are a soul having the human experience of anger. You are not angry. 

 

Emotions are simply energy in motion. Some energy moves forcefully (like anger) and some energy moves softly (like contentment). When you’re identifying with the energy moving in and through you, you’re caught in the grip of that energy. Identifying with your emotions, especially the ones that don’t feel good, can lead to resisting, fighting, denying or pushing away the energy that’s trying to flow through. That causes an emotional dam inside you that gets bigger and bigger and eventually breaks, causing you to have a meltdown or outburst, oftentimes seemingly out of the blue or over a completely minor upset.  

 

Step Two: Start Observing

 

When you finally realize that you’re causing your own suffering by identifying with everything, you can practice the second step and start observing.

 

Start becoming a witness rather than an identifier. It’s a simple shift in focus from being lost in the circumstance, emotion, thought or story that you’re identifying with to observing yourself experiencing the circumstance, emotion, thought or story. You might still be feeling the emotion or thinking the thought, but now you’re witnessing yourself feeling and thinking. You’ve separated yourself from the thought or emotion, you’re no longer lost in it, identifying with it.

 

Michael Singer, NY Times bestselling author of The Untethered Soul and The Surrender Experiment, says: 

There are two distinct aspects of your inner being. The first is you, the awareness, the witness, the center of your willful intentions; and the other is that which you watch. The problem is, the part that you watch never shuts up. If you could get rid of that part, even for a moment, the peace and serenity would be the nicest vacation you’ve ever had.

 

Getting the “part that you watch” to quiet down a bit requires practicing becoming the witness. Eventually it will quiet down but when it does, it won’t matter much to you anyway because you’ve become so good at not identifying with it that it doesn’t matter if it chatters incessantly.  

 

The key is to practice when you’re NOT in a difficult moment, when your emotions aren’t so agitated and heated. Practice observing when your emotions are calmer and more neutral, such as when you’re brushing your teeth, eating a meal, putting on clothes, etc., and then when a challenging circumstance occurs, you’ll be that much better and stronger at witnessing yourself. It’s a muscle and working it out consistently makes it stronger. 

 

There are two you’s in there. There’s the you brushing your teeth, thinking about your long to-do list for the day, stressing over how it’s all going to get done… and then there’s the you WATCHING the you brushing your teeth, thinking about your long to-do list for the day, stressing over how it’s all going to get done.

 

The real you is THE ONE WATCHING. And this one watching is unaffected by the stresses of a long to-do list. This is who you really are. This is the soul. 

 

Sit back into the seat of the soul and joyfully observe as the human you experiences life in all its pain, sensitivity and glory. The soul came here specifically to experience this beautiful, brutal range of life, to learn certain lessons from it, to grow and evolve and become more than what it could never be without these experiences. 

 

When you become a witness, an observer to the shadow side of your sensitivity, you stop identifying with being that person who’s “so sensitive” and the negative aspects of your sensitivity dissipates naturally, revealing more and more of the light, positive aspects of being sensitive. 

 

Eventually, you can harness the power of your sensitivity to do good in this world, in true service, to help heal, calm and empower others.  

 

If you want to go deeper into this practice, click here to learn more

What is an empath?

If you’re like me, you feel the weight of the world in your being. 

 

If you’re like me, you tend to feel other people’s emotions.

 

If you’re like me, you’re an empath.

 

What is an empath?

 

In a general nutshell, an empath is a person who has the ability to sense or feel other people’s energy. 

 

You can walk into a friend’s (or stranger’s) home and sense that there was a fight just moments before. While everyone’s smiling politely and appears happy, the feelings of anger and discord still linger in the air, heavy and dense, though no one else seems to notice.

 

You can look someone in the eyes and know that what they’re telling you isn’t true, even if they’re convincing to everyone else. 

 

You can sit with a friend who just lost a mother and feel her grief as if it were your own.

 

So, what does it mean to be an empath?

 

Basically, you have the ability to, in a sense, take on the suffering of the world.

Fun times.

 

But you also have the ability to feel the world’s joy, beauty and grace.

 

As an empath, I’ve always felt different than everyone else. I felt like I was living in an upside down world. 

 

What the world told me was important seemed trivial to me. What was important to me, the world told me I should shrug off, not take personally and let go.

 

I would see a tree get cut down in the forest and cry for days over the death of the tree and the displacement of all the animals and critters that lived inside it. It felt like someone boring a hole in my heart while others told me it happens all the time and “try not to think about it too much, there’s nothing you can do.”

 

I would see someone being mean to another and feel the pain of hurt, injustice and cruelty. It felt wrong and unfathomable to me how others can be so disconnected from themselves and each other. But everyone else would shrug it off as if it’s normal and “that’s just how people are sometimes.” To me, a slight comment, said off-the-cuff by someone I love, used to devastate me for days. 

 

If this resonates with you, or if you’re still unsure what it means to be an empath, here are 6 signs and traits that you’re an empath. 

 

1. You feel other people’s feelings, often as if they’re your own. This is why sometimes you might be in a great mood and suddenly you feel annoyed or agitated for no apparent reason. It could be that someone who was feeling annoyed walked by and you unwittingly picked up their emotion. 

2. You pick up on subtle clues and sense what’s really going on inside people. This is why sometimes you meet someone who appears happy, talks happy and smiles all the time but you sense a raw, gnawing sadness deep within them. Sometimes you want to shake them and yell, “stop the facade!” 

3. You’re on empathy overload. This is why sometimes people can overwhelm you and you feel drained and exhausted after being around others for too long. Your heightened empathy is also why people tend to confide in you and tell you all their problems, even strangers you meet at the grocery store. At the end of the day, you sometimes want to turn off the lights, close the door and shut out the world. Or do this…

how an empath feels

4. You’re highly intuitive. This is why sometimes you know what’s going to happen before it happens, you know who’s calling before you look at your phone, and you can tell when someone’s lying. This is also why you often make decisions that don’t make sense to others and seem to defy ration and logic. And you can’t explain why you’ve decided a certain way other than, “it feels right.”

5. Nature is your sanctuary. This is why you feel comforted when surrounded by trees, flowers, mountains, oceans or open sky. Nature makes you feel peaceful and relaxed and you’d rather be alone surrounded by birds and trees than at a party surrounded by people and technology. 

6. People don’t get you. This is why you often feel alone, different and misunderstood, as if you’re an alien from another planet. You don’t really fit in with everyone else, and even though you desperately want to at times (because it seems easier and a sense of belonging is an innate, fundamental desire), you also desperately want the freedom to simply be who you are, exactly as you are, without judgment, criticism or condemnation from others who don’t understand you. 

 

If you happen to be a Highly Sensitive Person and you resonate with all of these traits, you may be wondering what’s the difference between an empath and an HSP. Here’s an article I wrote about the fundamental difference between a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and an empath. They’re not the same. A Highly Sensitive Person is someone who has the neurological trait of sensory processing sensitivity, as defined by Dr. Elaine Aron, the scientist who discovered the trait. You can learn more about HSP’s on Dr. Aron’s website

 

There’s also a difference between having empathy and being an empath. This article in Psychology Today makes the distinction that while many people have empathy for others, an empath takes it to a completely deeper level by energetically absorbing the feelings of others, not just empathizing with them. 

 

Whether you’re an empathizer, an HSP or not, if you’re still wondering how to know if you’re an empath, chances are, you probably are, you just don’t want to admit it. The fact that you’re questioning it means something’s lurking inside you. 

 

If you’ve read these traits of an empath and fell asleep out of boredom or you think the author is crazy, chances are, you’re not. The fact that it didn’t resonate with you or you didn’t get it means that it’s just not your thing.

 

On the other hand, if all these signs point to you and you found yourself crying as you read this article, welcome home.  

 

I wrote a love letter here, just for you.

 

If you’re just discovering that you’re an empath or if you’re struggling to survive in this seemingly insensitive world, you can download my free Ultimate Emotional Survival Guide for Empaths and Sensitive Souls. 

 

And if you want to connect, sign up to my newsletter below.  It’s like a family reunion in your inbox every week… without the drama. Only kindness, unconditional love and understanding from your empathic family. We get you.

 

Plus, you’ll get exclusive content I don’t share outside my family circle. 

Don’t-try-to-be-Happy New Year!

Everywhere I look, I see “Happy New Year!” plastered in my inbox and across social media. But we’re 3 days in to the new year and what if… you’re not happy? 

 

Off to a bad start, eh?

 

Here’s a thought…

 

Don’t try to be happy this year. 

 

Better yet, be okay with whatever you feel this year, whether it’s happy, sad, mad, or glad. A fast path to true, inner happiness is acceptance of what is. The fastest path is appreciation for what is. But sometimes that’s too big a leap, so we start with acceptance and ease our way into appreciation. When you accept the present moment, no matter what, you tune in to a different, more open energy and that’s when you’re in a better position to feel happiness. 

 

Just think about the last time you felt unhappy. What did you do about it? Did you try to change your mood or do something to try to feel happy? Did you start questioning your life and think of all the ways you wish it could change so you can be happy? Did you blame someone else for your unhappiness? Did you take a course or read a book in an effort to get happy? Did you slap on a fake smile? Did you identify with your unhappiness and think there was something wrong with you or your life because you weren’t happy? Or did you do nothing but cry, wishing you could feel better?

 

All of those reactions point to one thing: RESISTANCE. You are at war with yourself, life and others, when you resist anything that’s happening to or from you. It’s a never-ending cycle that feeds itself. You’re sad, and that doesn’t feel good, so you try to change it or wish it could be different, but it doesn’t work, so you get mad, then that doesn’t feel good either, so you try to change it or wish it could be different, but it doesn’t work, so you get desperate and feel helpless, but that doesn’t feel good either so you try to change it…. And on and on we go in an endless war of identification with our pain.

 

Aren’t you tired of fighting? 

 

Aren’t you totally and utterly exhausted?

 

Whose war is this, anyway? 

 

Who are you fighting against?

 

What if… you stopped fighting?

 

What if… you let go of resistance? 

 

What if… you give in to feeling sad? Or mad. Or helpless. Or anything you’re feeling in the moment?

 

It doesn’t mean you’ve given up on life, it means you’ve given up on resistance to life. You let the invisible opponent win. 

 

You say out loud, “There you go, invisible opponent of this war I’ve been fighting… whoever you are. You win. I officially declare that I am unhappy. And I am OKAY with it.”

 

And in that declaration of acceptance of where you are, YOU win! 

 

You may even realize that there was no opponent all along. You’ve simply been fighting yourself, and your life. 

 

That’s why you’ve been so miserable. You’re a lover, not a fighter. So you’ve been pretending to be someone you’re not. No wonder you’re exhausted. 

 

How about this year, we simply strive to BE who, what, how and why we are – in any given moment. I don’t care about how you feel anyway, I only care about YOU who feel. 

 

Want to join me in this lack of caring? 

 

It’s liberating, trust me. 

 

Let’s not get bogged down in our emotions, let’s rise up in our BEING-ness. 

 

Let’s become witnesses to our emotional highs and lows, rather than the roller coaster itself. 

 

Let’s aim for a new year of loving, not fighting, surrendering, not resisting, and witnessing, not identifying. 

 

With that said, I wish you a very peaceful and “Don’t-try-to-be-Happy New Year!”

A Decade in the Life of a Sensitive Soul

I’ve been noticing a trend in my inbox – people reviewing their successes, lessons and failures in the past decade. Me? I don’t remember what I had for dinner last night, let alone what happened in the last 10 years. But on this final day of 2019, I woke up with a fire raging inside, compelling me to sit and write. So here I am, unwittingly reflecting over a decade of deep pain, crushed hearts and unfair deaths as well as immense joy, spiritual rebirth and grace-filled miracles. 

Looking back, I realize now that I had been living mostly out of alignment with who I am, especially in the beginning, and the past decade has been about rediscovering who I am as a human being, so that I can come back into alignment with my soul. Take a look at my decade in review below and I bet you’ll wonder how our lives can be so similar… maybe not the specific details, but the main struggles and deeper insights will likely resonate with you. How, you ask? Because we’re sensitive souls, we came from the same light, and this is the ascension times of spiritual rebirth for all of us.

 

Here are six crucial points in my journey.

10 years ago, I filed for bankruptcy. I was at my bottom, not only financially, but emotionally and spiritually. When you have to sell your clothes and furniture in order to scrounge up enough money for rent, it’s hard to feel good about yourself. In my lawyer’s office, as I held the pen in my hand and stared at the signature line on the legal bankruptcy documents, I had a spiritual revelation. I wasn’t just signing my name on a piece of paper, I was taking full responsibility for myself, declaring to the courts of California and the jury of the Universe that I, and only I, was responsible for the way my life was turning out. It was the most liberating, and soul-crushing, thing I’ve ever done. I talked about this moment with John Lee Dumas on the Entrepreneur on Fire podcast. You can listen to it here.

From this experience, I learned one of my most liberating lessons: TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF, even if there are a million valid reasons why it’s not your fault. This means taking full responsibility for your thoughts, actions and the things that happen to and around you. 

 

8 years ago, I agreed to an open relationship with my then-boyfriend. I didn’t want it, but our relationship was heading down an old, familiar and worn-out road. Having grown up with a relationship model of infidelity, watching my mom cry at nights when she discovered yet another affair of my dad’s, year after year, I followed in her footsteps and got into relationships with men who wouldn’t commit to me. As each of my relationships ended the same way, I simply couldn’t handle one more betrayal, so I convinced myself that opening up the relationship would mean at least he’s not cheating on me. After all, we’ve agreed it’s okay. But the truth is, no matter how much I tried to tell myself it was okay, my soul knew the heart-breaking reality. I was lying to him. I wasn’t okay with it. And worse, I was lying to myself. I was trying to be someone I wasn’t, grasping desperately at ways to salvage our broken relationship, because I didn’t want to face the pain of betrayal, failure and starting over – yet again. 

From this experience, I learned one of my most painful lessons: NEVER COMPROMISE WHO YOU ARE, even if it means you will lose everything. The things you stand to lose aren’t nearly as important as your soul, which you’ll surely lose when you try to be someone you’re not. 

 

7 years ago, as the relationship above was nearing its inevitable end, my father died. I had already lost my boyfriend, and along with him went the business we built and the house we bought. And then I got a call from my sister saying if I wanted to see dad again, I better fly out to Maine where he was hospitalized, as soon as possible. After over a decade of not talking to my father, we had only recently rekindled our relationship. In the 3 months prior to his death, we had deep talks, long-awaited apologies and cried many tears. Our relationship story had reached its redemption peak and we were looking forward to rebuilding and creating new memories. We made plans to go to Vietnam together (my birth place) that summer, but God had other plans for him. Fortunately, I got to spend a few days with him before he died.  

From this experience, I learned one of my most miraculous lessons: LOVE TRANSCENDS ALL WARS, even if the war is deeply rooted in hatred, anger and a lifetime of disappointment. In the end, only love matters. And you don’t have to wait until the physical finality of death to discover this. 

 

During this time, I unleashed my wrath upon God. When I got word that my father was dying, I lost it. I was angry at Him for taking my father away. But my anger went deeper and I never knew how angry I was at God, how year after year, disappointment after disappointment, I had been accumulating layer upon layer of resentment toward Him and not even knowing it. After all, it’s not spiritual to be angry, I thought, especially at God, so I hid it even from myself. Rationally, I knew God was not at fault, but deep in my heart, in my soul, there was a gaping, raw and infected wound from His abandonment and betrayal. He promised he would never leave nor forsake me. God promises a lot of things. And yet, I had a lifetime of disappointments and hurts to prove his never-ending string of broken promises. After I screamed and wailed and sobbed on my knees, spewing words of violence and hatred that terrified me as they came out of my mouth, I stopped talking to God for days. As grace would have it, my tantrum turned out to be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Somehow, in releasing all that stored up, blocked energy against God, I became lighter and free. And God and I began a new relationship, one based on truth and raw honesty, rather than pretense and “being a good spiritual person”.

From this experience, I learned one of my most divine lessons: GOD WANTS YOU TO BE HONEST WITH HIM, even if that means telling Him you hate Him. Only when you’re truly, completely honest with your feelings about Him, can you start to develop a real, deeply loving and truthful relationship together. 

 

5 years ago, I got serious about my life’s message and purpose here on Earth, and turned my little-known blog into a real, revenue-generating business. I spent thousands of dollars on online business-building programs and joined elite paid groups where I got coaching and personalized attention to ensure I wouldn’t fail. I had bought courses before and never followed through on them, so I knew I needed accountability and the ability to ask questions and get answers when I got stuck. I knew I needed help and made a decision that the money I spent was an investment in myself and I wouldn’t look back and play small anymore. I turned my life’s struggles into service, my mess into my message and started putting myself out there and have since been featured in popular sites such as Huffington Post, Elephant Journal, Tiny Buddha and more, along with co-creating a course with The Shift Network.

From this experience, I learned one my most enriching lessons: INVESTING IN MY LONG-TERM GROWTH IS THE BEST INVESTMENT I CAN MAKE, even if money is tight in the moment. I no longer look at the one-time price of a program, service, course or product; I look at the life-long cost of not buying it. I recognized where I was stuck and hired good people to help me get unstuck. The cost of not investing often meant I’d still be stuck, playing small with my excuses and pretending I’m not worthy, all the while with the same problems month after month, year after year.  And I would’ve missed out on helping thousands of sensitive souls and enriching their lives for the better. In fact, you would not be reading this today had I not learned this lesson.

 

2 years ago, I found out my body can’t have babies. I wrote about it here. It was devastating and took me 9 months to acknowledge it. In the same amount of time it takes to make a full-grown baby, it took me to finally face it like a grown-up. I did a lot of growing up that year, even though I’m well into my 40s. I practiced what I preach to my clients and students, and went deep into my pain. It felt a lot like tumbling down the rabbit hole, as I experienced out-of-this-world woo-woo stuff such as cosmo-energy healing, past life visions, channeling entities and parallel dimensions. I thought I was going crazy, but there was something very sane and right about it all, even though it didn’t make logical sense. In discovering that this human form has limitations, it was as if my skin turned inside out and my soul emerged from underneath all the flesh. I stopped being human and spirit started living through me. I don’t really know how to explain this but I bet you know what I’m talking about it. Something about it resonates with you, doesn’t it?

From this experience, I learned the most important lesson of all: I AM NOT HUMAN. GOD LIVES IN, THROUGH AND AS ME, even if my life looks like an ordinary, mundane existence, it’s still a miracle of divine proportions. In fact, it’s a miracle anything was able to get through this tough iron shell of a person who thought she was in control, had a say in her life and struggled so hard at every turn to make things work. 

 

All she had to do was let go. 

And let life live through her. 

Now I know. After more than a decade of lessons and learning, 2020 will be about getting out of my own way and letting divine vision take over.  

If you haven’t done a decade-review yet, I highly urge you to take some time and reflect upon the past 10 years… where you’ve been, how you’ve felt, and what 2020 means to you. Everyone gets a second chance, starting tomorrow. Let’s clean the slate and start anew in 2020. No matter what your life has been in the past, tomorrow is truly a new day. 

It’s the beginning of our ascension. 

Let’s go together, shall we?

Worst. Gratitude List. Ever. (But So Powerful!)

Yesterday, I wrote a “nice” gratitude post listing 7 things I’m grateful for. Today, I promised you a “naughty” one. 

 

This is a difficult list to write, but once you master the art of writing this type of twisted list, you free yourself from the painful energetic bondages of the past. When you can deeply feel the truth of this list, your energy shifts from helpless victim to powerful co-creator. It not only brings you into a state of appreciation and acceptance of the horrid experiences you’ve had, but it also transforms your painful stories (and life!) into redemptive, transformative stories that serve you instead of keeping you stuck in the past. 

 

Before we begin, there are two approaches you can take to this.

 

The first is the “good spiritual student” approach where you try to keep things loving and Zen and peaceful. This works best if you’re authentically feeling the appreciation inside and the feelings of anger, resentment or bitterness have given way to forgiveness, understanding and compassion. If you’re not feeling the “good spiritual feelings” when writing your list, I recommend going for the second approach. It’s more authentic and true to how you’re feeling in the moment. Otherwise, it’s a good try, but the Universe reads your energy, not your words. So while it’s a nice exercise to write appreciative, loving words when you don’t really feel it, it’s not of great benefit.

 

The second is the “good spiritual student but still f***ing human with feelings, goddammit” approach. As the name suggests, this approach is a bit more fun. You get to be real and let it all out. You get to hold on to a bit of anger (if you insist), while working toward releasing it with a new, redemptive story. The goal here is to be honest with how you feel but shift the majority of your focus and vision on the transformative aspects of the experience, rather than dwelling on the pain, injustice or wrongness of it. Warning: this type of approach might result in a list with a lot of expletives. 

 

There’s also a third approach, but it’s a combination of the two above. There may be some things on your list you’ve fully worked through and are in the Zen stage of it, and then there’s still a thing or two that needs more light and healing, because you’re a f***ing human with feelings goddammit, and sometimes humans want to hold on to pain a little longer even though they know better. Either way, it’s still your right to hold on or let go when you’re ready.  

 

If you’re a little confused, don’t worry, once you read my list below, you’ll understand fully. Let my experiences be your example and reflect on ways in which they could apply to you too. 

 

So let’s get started…. Here are 4 things I’m grateful for, goddammit. 

 

1. All the f***ing guys who ever lied, cheated and otherwise wouldn’t commit to me

Relationships have been a big struggle for me in the past. I dated nice guys, but they were unwilling to commit to me. After a while, they ended up having trysts with other women during our relationship. It was a repeating pattern with me and has taken a really long time to break. I’m 48 now and in a committed relationship with an incredibly loyal, honorable and integritous man whose world revolves around me and his daughter. 

Because of these past relationships, I learned that I needed to commit to me first instead of using the other person to prove I was good enough to be commitment worthy. It wasn’t until I finally committed to myself that I found the man of my dreams who would commit to me. 

Because these guys truly were good, nice guys, I learned that sometimes we can unwittingly affect other people’s energies with our own unresolved energy and I also learned that love, compassion and understanding go much further for all involved than anger, blame and resentment, though sometimes it takes a while to get there. And that’s okay. 

Because of the immense pain of these experiences, I was forced to go deeper into understanding myself and how I contributed to the situations with my own energy, expectations and beliefs, which caused me to grow and evolve and become more self-aware. This is probably the greatest gift I received from my past relationships.

 

2. My emotionally absent, alcoholic dad

My struggle with my father was epic. He’s the only person in my life I’ve ever disowned. Most people know me as very easy going, forgiving and loving. I inherently understand why people act the way they do, even though I may not agree with them, and I get along with everyone, even that super annoying person no one else likes. So when I disown someone, it’s big. My story with my dad goes beyond the scope of this list, but for the sake of not writing a book today, I’ll keep it to the most important lesson.

Because hating someone I’m supposed to love tears me up inside, and my many attempts at trying to change him so that it would be easier for me to love him failed (never try this at home, it doesn’t work), I had no choice but to go deeper into my pain so I can understand it, myself and my dad more. It took me 4 decades of struggling with my love/hate feelings for my dad before I could come out on the love side consistently and dissolve the hate and anger. He’s my greatest teacher in unconditional love. My mom taught me unconditional love by example, my dad taught me unconditional love by force. If I wanted to make peace with our relationship, I was forced to reach deep down inside myself and find the place where unconditional love lives and pull it out with all my might and strength. But once a person finds that holy place within them, they can never lose it again. Finding unconditional love within you is beyond heavenly, and this is the greatest gift my dad gave me.  

 

3. My dark decade of the soul 

I existed in a state of darkness and depression, borderlining suicide for a little over a decade. It’s a miracle I’m alive today to write about it, let alone appreciate it. At a time when kids are turning 21 and having the time of their lives, carefree, partying and unjaded by the harshness of years, I spent my 21st birthday alone on the sand at a beach in Southern California, looking into the sunny sky and praying for mercy from a God I didn’t believe in, to take my life and along with it, my pain and suffering. 

Because of my many years of depression, I experienced deep suffering. When you exist alone in the blackness at the bottom of your suffering long enough, you start to discover that there’s no end to you, despite your best efforts or prayers. While that may not seem like a good discovery for someone who’s lost in their suffering, the truth is it’s an amazing gift, only revealed to those who’ve endured the dark trenches long enough to get to that depth. When you go that deep, you find your true self – the self beyond the suffering. You learn what you’re made of and you connect to a part of the divinity that created you. In some ways, it’s like a rite of passage to the kingdom of heaven, reserved only for those courageous enough to withstand the pits of hell. Deep suffering is not mandatory, of course, to get there, and there are infinite paths to God, but this way seems a little more special after having been through it. This happens to have been my path and I’m richer, fuller, deeper and more in love with life because of it. 

 

4. The respected expert who told me I should remove all references to “empath” in my writings

When I first started my business, I managed to secure an interview with a famous, well-respected expert in the field of high sensitivity. I looked up to her (still do) and was beside myself that someone of her stature would agree to be interviewed by little ol’ me. The morning of the interview, I received an email saying she looked at my website, and due to my many references to “empaths”, she did not want to be associated with me publicly. 

Ouch. 

This is a leading scientist in the field of sensitivity and while I was crushed emotionally, I understood her point of view. “Empath” is too out-there, too woo-woo for a person of science to be endorsing, even indirectly. I emailed her and poured my heart out, not expecting a response back. But she did respond. This started a relay of emails back and forth, both of us sharing from the heart, respectfully, and creating a once-in-a-lifetime connection I’ll always cherish.

Because of this experience, I’ve learned the power of letting people down gracefully, which she did for me. She made me feel validated, heard and understood, even though she didn’t change her mind about the interview. I learned that you can stand your ground without pushing someone else down. You can both stand firm on the ground and respect each others’ wishes, even if they conflict. 

I also learned that it’s better to make decisions when you’re more of your calm, grounded self, rather than when you’re lost in your ego’s thoughts and feelings. At first, I was offended, hurt and angry. If I reacted in that moment, I might’ve written an angry email back. But instead, I waited until the initial sting of it went away and then decided to write back from a place of honesty and respect. 

This experience confirmed to me that I can still forge my own path in my business without having to follow other people’s paths as long as I remain true to who I am while being respectful to others. If you’re starting out in your own business, or you already have one, or if you’re a creator of any artistic endeavor, stay true to who you are and what’s meaningful to you. Respect other people’s work, keep your ego out of the way, and act from a place of dignity, honesty and grace. You will always succeed if you follow this rule. 

 

———-

 

Now, what about you? 

 

What’s your “Worst. Gratitude List. Ever”? 

 

I urge you to take some time to reflect on your painful past experiences and write a list such as the above, so you can begin to heal those old wounds and move toward a redemptive life of peace, joy and meaning. 

7 things I’m grateful for…

For many in the US, Thanksgiving is a time when we reflect on the things we’re grateful for. While gratitude is high on the vibration scale, appreciation is even higher. You want to get high? Start taking appreciation shots. 

 

But to get to the pure vibratory energy of appreciation, it helps to start with a gratitude list.  

 

Today, I write a “nice” list. Tomorrow, I write the “naughty” list. 

 

You’ll see what I mean tomorrow. I’m naming it: “Worst. Gratitude List. Ever. (But So Powerful!)” 

 

Today’s list is simply “7 Things I’m Grateful for…” Not as fun or enticing, but still so powerful!

 

For my readers outside the US, wishing you can join me in writing your own gratitude list no matter what the occasion! 

 

Here are 7 things I’m most grateful for this year…

 

1. The ability and freedom in my business to take time off when I need it 

Last year, I was struggling with some unexpected health issues. I sensed it was related to unresolved energy within me and am grateful that I was able to not only take time off from writing, coaching and social media, but also to have the financial abundance to experiment with and pay for various energy healing modalities. You can read about one of my energy healing sessions in this post, “If a soul cries and no one’s there to hear it, does it still hurt?”

 

2. My family 

This includes my Godman, stepdaughter, sisters, mom, BFF and animals. This also includes my spirit family, God, Stick Girl, my guardian angels and dead dad. They collectively keep me locked in and anchored. Without my family roots, this Tree would get blown away by the slightest breeze or upset. Everyone needs a family. If you don’t have a physical one, get to know your spiritual one. We all have ‘em. 

 

3. My Inner Happy family

This includes YOU, my dear readers, clients, students and superfans. Serving you is my purpose, so without you, I have no purpose. Thank you for reading my rants year after year, commenting on my blogs, emailing me your heart when it’s too intimate to comment publicly, and otherwise supporting me and my work.

 

4. Getting better at saying NO and setting boundaries (without letting guilt overrule my decision)

When sensitive souls say no to someone, it creates a mixed cocktail of conflict in their energy. Why? Because no one likes to be denied, so when we say no to someone, we immediately FEEL their disappointment and sense of rejection, as if its our own. (We’re empaths, remember? We absorb other people’s emotions.) And then mixed in with that, we have our own feelings of guilt and letting someone down, which all conflicts with our authentic desire of not wanting to do it in the first place. That’s why it’s so difficult – we’re energetically torn up inside. It’s cognitive dissonance at its worst. People pleasers we are, and when people aren’t pleased, neither are we. (Yes, I just channeled Yoda. Grateful for that too.) The understanding alone of why we feel so bad when we say no is enough to help us start saying no, despite the conflict stirring inside us. We don’t have to give in to those feelings, we simply need to acknowledge and understand them, and they will pass. When I took time off, I had to say NO to many people, both personal and professional. I turned down invitations to be a guest expert on interviews, summits and other virtual events. And I also turned down some potential high end coaching clients who begged me for help. It was extremely difficult, but by saying NO to others, and adhering to it, I said YES to myself. This is a difficult lifetime practice that many of us sensitive souls learn to balance eventually. 

 

5. The incredible opportunity to work with The Shift Network

One of the things I absolutely positively could NOT say no to was the opportunity to co-create a course with The Shift Network. I not only got to work with an incredibly conscious, forward-thinking and open minded organization, I also got to work with new students from all parts of the world, who joined me live on a 7 week transformative deeply emotional journey. Depending on their time zones, they signed in from their beds, cars and desks. One was even on a boat with her little Indigo son listening in! These are some of the most dedicated, committed and brave souls I’ve ever had the pleasure of learning from. The things they shared in the group class were heart wrenching and beautiful. I also got to teach things I’ve never taught publicly before, only my private coaching clients knew about them. You can still catch the recording of my Finding Freedom as an Empath interview with Stephen Dinan, founder of The Shift Network, here. 

 

6. The opportunities to expand my reach and impact millions

One of my big visions is to impact millions of sensitive souls in a way that makes their lives more joyful, meaningful and transcendental. This year, I’ve created amazing opportunities moving me closer to that vision. One of them is The Shift Network course mentioned above, and the others…. Well, they’re not public yet so I can’t say! DOH! I really really really really reeeaaally want to, but I can’t yet! When I started this business merely 5 years ago, I told myself, “if I can help just one person, it will all be worth it.” And it was. Now, I’m on track to help millions. But it all starts with ONE! So no matter where you are in your business, or maybe you don’t have or want a business, but you’re an artist, healer, lightworker, singer, actor, painter, psychic, intuitive, yoga teacher, etc., you HAVE a message. There’s something inside you, a higher message, that yearns to get out. Start with getting it out to ONE. Help ONE person. And after that person, help the next. And after that person, the next. And on and on. Before you know it, you’ll be impacting millions.  

 

7. Electricity & Water

Yea, yea, I know this one is uber boring, but with all the recent fires in Southern California and SCE (our electric company) turning off our power “for public safety precautions” every time a butterfly flaps its wings a wee bit faster, you really start to appreciate the ordinary, everyday things we take for granted, like being able to see your face when you brush your teeth at night. Or even brushing your teeth with running water vs bottled water. Yes, the water pumps run on electricity, so no electricity = no water. We have a generator and we’re super grateful for that too, but it’s nice not to have to trip over multiple extension cords running through your house and filling up with gas every few hours. First world problems, I know. But do I feel guilty that other people in different parts of the world live without electricity or running water every day? No. The moment you feel guilty because you have more, and sorry for someone else who has less, is the moment you put them into helpless victim mode. This victim energy pulls you down into the base Identifier stage and does nothing to serve you. In fact, you’re energetically holding them down as well. To truly help someone, see them (and yourself) in the Alchemist stage and recognize that they already have the power (even if it’s still untapped) to create the life they want. To learn about the four stages of emotional awakening, click here. 

 

——–

For those of us in the US, as we sit around our tables tomorrow and feast… and if you’re not in the US, you don’t need an official holiday to feast OR be grateful… reflect back on your year and think about:

 

What are some things you’re grateful for? 

 

Tomorrow, I’ll post my worst gratitude list ever, and I’ll show you how writing your own list like this can deepen your gratitude into a higher vibration of appreciation. Once you’re in pure appreciation mode, you can have anything you desire!

 

Until then, happy feasting!

How to Move Through the Pain of a Tragedy


My 16 year old stepdaughter goes to Saugus High School – the very same school where a 16 year old boy, on his birthday last Thursday, opened fire with a .45 caliber handgun in the school’s outdoor Quad and shot 5 students before turning the gun on himself. 

 

She was in class when a panicked boy ran into the classroom, slammed the door shut, locked it and yelled, “there’s someone shooting people outside!” Shortly after, the school went into lockdown and the alarms sounded. 

 

I can’t begin to describe the series of events and deep emotions that have surfaced within our family and other families in our close-knit community since that fateful day.

 

Friday, the day after the shooting, my stepdaughter spent the day crying. She told us that when it’s quiet, she hears gunshots and screaming. So we took her to the loudest restaurant we know for dinner that night, a teppanyaki restaurant where you sit around a grill, family style, next to other diners you don’t know, and the chef cooks in front of the patrons, putting on a show. None of us were in any mood to be social or entertained, but it was all we could think to do, to keep the flashback sounds from coming back.

 

Saturday morning, she woke up with puffy eyes, zombie-like, in a depressed daze, not much different than the day before. I had been keeping it together for her, to be a pillar of strength so that she could lean on some semblance of solidity, normalcy and familiarity. 

 

I had a massage appointment that was pre-scheduled and didn’t want to cancel (I needed it more than I thought), so I left early in the morning, feeling helpless as I left her on the couch, eyes glazed, staring blankly at the TV, with her dad beside her.

 

In January 2018, I wrote this article for Tiny Buddha titled “The Most Powerful Way to Help Someone Through Emotional Pain.” It’s about an experience I had with my massage therapist after she’d lost her twin girls from her womb, and how I allowed myself to become a vessel of grief through which her pain could safely flow. 

 

This time, it was her turn to help me. As I stepped into her room, she sensed a disturbance in me and said, “What’s wrong?” 

 

In that moment, I gave myself permission to break down. I began sobbing, expressing my feelings of helplessness and releasing what I’d been holding in for the sake of my stepdaughter. She listened quietly, as I had once listened to her, and allowed me to cry without conditions. 

 

She didn’t try to fix me. She didn’t try to make it better. She didn’t try to reason, rationalize or otherwise look on the positive side. She simply listened, holding the container for me to safely spill my emotions out from inside me. 

 

All I needed was an unconditional release, meaning a safe space to “let myself go” unhindered by thoughts of protecting someone else, how it might affect the other person, being judged, or getting fixed. And I needed a witness. Someone to lovingly hold the space for me to experience this. 

 

I felt better immediately. 

 

When we’re dealing with strong, powerful and painful emotions, it’s important to:

 

1)  Allow ourselves a safe space in which to flow the energy out, releasing it from our physical bodies and beings.

 

2) Not try to fix it or make it better.

 

3) Not use our reasoning, logical minds to soothe it.

 

4) Not resist it, push it away, deny it, or hold it back.

 

5) Let ourselves FEEL and sink deeper into the pain, accepting and embracing it. 

 

6) Witness the experience ourselves, or better yet, invite someone we trust in to become a witness for us, to see and validate our pain. 

 

When we can fully allow ourselves to feel our pain, we can move through it as it moves through us. We don’t have to analyze, minimize, maximize, dramatize or otherwise make it more or less than what it is. 

 

We simply need to FEEL it and let it flow. 

 

When you’re faced with a hurting child, everything inside you wants to help them, to make them feel better. It’s excruciating to see someone you love, someone so young and innocent, hurting. You feel utterly helpless because there is absolutely. Nothing. You. Can. Do. to make it go away. 

 

It is. 

 

And in accepting what is, despite the apparent injustice and tragedy of it, we can begin to heal.

 

I find solace and comfort in being present for her, to allow her the unconditional release to feel and hurt and cry freely.  

 

I find solace and comfort in giving myself that same unconditional release, knowing that we are each affected in our own way and no matter how we feel, we can move through it.  

 

I find solace and comfort in knowing that God is always here, no matter how difficult it may be to see Him. 

 

At times like these, we need to consciously connect with the Divine within us, the transcendent dimension, to know that all is truly well, despite external appearances. We can be in this world but not of it, experiencing life in full heart-crushing force, yet also witnessing it from the higher perspective of our eternal souls.    

 

What about you? I’d love to hear what has brought you comfort and solace in tragic times and how you dealt with it. Feel free to share in the comments below.

Are you an Identifier, Survivor, Observer or Alchemist?

Last week, I invited you to a free virtual event with The Shift Network [UPDATE: this event is over] where I talk about the 4 stages of emotional awakening for an empath and sensitive soul.

Do you know which stage you’re in? Take this quiz to find out. 

Knowing which stage you’re in can help you to not only understand why you are the way you are, why certain things keep happening in your life, and why you absorb (or not) everyone’s energy, but it can also help you gain compassion for yourself and acceptance of where you are in your evolutionary growth. And as a bonus, it will help explain that ever-so-frustrating question of how your co-worker (or family member or anyone) can be so clueless and insensitive (it’s because of the mentality of the stage they’re in).

I haven’t shared these four stages with anyone except my private clients, and I’ll share them in more depth at the event but here’s a quick overview. 

 

Stage 1: The Identifier

A person in this stage lives from a place of fear. Life is happening TO them, things are being thrown AT them. They absorb everyone’s energy and emotions. They haven’t yet learned to manage their own energy, let alone anyone else’s. They feel exhausted, overwhelmed and drained by the end of the day. The Identifier doesn’t yet know how to distinguish the difference between themselves and their internal and external world. For example, they identify with their thoughts, feelings and external circumstances. This is why they take things so personally. When someone says something insensitive to them or something bad happens to them, they take the information in as part of their identity (unconsciously) and it really hurts. They would do well with locking themselves up in a small room, turning off all the lights, and simply sitting in silence to decompress at the end of the day (or even in short moments throughout the day). The Identifier clings on to stories of their past and puts the responsibility of the status of their lives and who they are onto other people, experiences and circumstances that have happened to them. They have a victim mentality. A common phrase of the Identifier is “Look what they’ve done to me.”

 

Stage 2: The Survivor

Like the Identifier, the Survivor also lives from a place of fear. Life is happening TO them, things are being thrown AT them, but they are better at swatting them away. The Survivor has realized that they have control over how they react, they know they have to power to turn their old stories around. They’re using shielding techniques such as putting invisible force fields around themselves or imagining white protective bubbles of light around them, to shield them from other people’s energy and emotions. While they have some level of success with these techniques, these techniques aren’t sustainable in the long term because they’re still based on fear and a sense that they need to “protect” themselves. The Survivor might be dabbling in the Law of Attraction work and starting to manifest a few things here and there. They take responsibility for their lives more than an Identifier and instead of blaming others or circumstances, they’re self-reflective and looking more internally for causes. A common phrase of the Survivor is “Look what they’ve done to me, but I survived. I overcame. I won’t let them get me down.” The Survivor is starting to come into their own power but they are still identified with the past and the event or circumstance in which they had to overcome. It’s still a large and important part of their identity. 

 

Stage 3: The Observer

Unlike the first two stages, the Observer lives from a place of inner calm. Life is flowing THROUGH them. They have learned the skill of taking the witness seat, where they can simply watch their thoughts and emotions ebb and flow but they are not lost in them. They no longer need to use shielding or protective techniques to block other people’s energy and emotions, they know how to let them flow through them, if they choose, and transmute them. They are experientially aware of a force greater than themselves, not just knowing in theory or as an idea in their minds, but they feel the force viscerally and through their bodies. The Observer is beginning to let go of the identities they so desperately clung to as an Identifier and Survivor. They are recognizing they have deeper value and worth than the illusion of value they derived from being a victim or survivor. An Observer accepts life as it is with no resistance or judgment therefore their inner world is calm, peaceful and serene. 

 

Stage 4: The Alchemist

Like the Observer, the Alchemist lives from a place of inner calm, but instead of life flowing through them, they are living AS life. They’ve achieved unification between the mind, body and spirit. Their spiritual world is one with their physical world and there’s no longer separation. They are inspired and moved by a divine grace, a source, a greater force that runs their lives. Their identity is not wrapped up in their thoughts, emotions, circumstances or even who they present themselves to be in this physical world. Their identity is derived from divine source and they live with flow, ease and abundance. They still experience the density of human life as it comes but no longer identifies with it and recognizes it’s all part of the divine flow and growth. The Alchemist has the ability and wisdom to absorb other people’s denser energies and transmute it into lighter, purer energy, releasing it back into the world transformed. 

 

Where do you fall within these four stages? I’d love to hear which stage you resonate with, and then take this quiz to find out the truth. 

But before you comment, if you want to learn more about these stages, secure your spot first for my upcoming free online event, Finding Freedom as an Empath: 4 Stages of Emotional Awakening for Sensitive Souls

[UPDATE: this event is over]

It’s Saturday, September 14 at 10am PT. If you aren’t available but don’t want to miss it, you can sign up now and will be given a link to a replay after the event. 

During this powerful hour, I’ll also show you:

  • Your emotions are energy flowing through you… and you don’t need to allow them to control your life
  • The 3 Infinite Truths that can help you navigate life’s challenges as a sensitive soul
  • An energy-shifting practice for transforming your emotions from painful to powerful
  • Common struggles and gifts of sensitive souls
  • An energetic visualization to help you transmute stuck energies — for more peace and freedom

My practical hands-on approach to using your daily struggles, thoughts, and emotions as guides to greater self-awareness and spiritual evolution are easily accessible and provide a “lifeboat” in the sea of overwhelm for empaths and sensitive souls.

To our evolutionary growth,

Tree

 

Aren’t I denying reality if I take the witness seat?

Photo by Anthony Tran

In my last blog post, I shared an experience that happened to me over 20 years ago after I caught my then-boyfriend sleeping with another woman, and how I was graced with the gift of “witnessing” in the midst of the pain and drama. If you haven’t read that post, you can read it here first to get a fuller understanding of what it means to “take the witness seat.”

 

Put simply, taking the witness seat means to settle into the core of who you are (your soul) rather than identifying with the thoughts, emotions and activity going on in and around you. You may still have the thoughts and feelings inside you, and the activity may still be going on around you, but you’re now observing them rather than being lost in them.

 

I received some emails after the article went live and since I can’t respond to every email personally, there was a recurring question that came up that I’d like to answer in today’s article.

 

Here’s what some of you said: 

 

“Don’t I have to face reality rather than transcend it? I still have a life with real challenges & struggles that must be dealt with.”

 

“To surrender to the moment seems irresponsible. Didn’t your then-boyfriend need to know that his action caused negative consequences? If you let him get away with it, he’ll think it’s okay to lie and cheat.” 

 

“What do I do with the reality of the situation when I’m taking the witness seat? Taking the witness seat doesn’t change the fact that my rent is due in two days and I don’t have the money to pay it.” 

 

“So what does this ‘You who feels’, do about such things in reality? This is what I don’t get. We get above ourselves or witness the unfolding of interactions, but still our feelings have important functions to motivate us in certain ways.”

 

First, let me stress that I LOVE THESE QUESTIONS!

 

You know why?

 

Sometimes I write an article and get zero response. Maybe the article was helpful to you, maybe it wasn’t. I have no idea since I didn’t get any emails or comments about it. But I didn’t write it to get feedback, I wrote it to serve. So I trust that the Universe is delivering my message to those who need to hear it and then I let my ego go. And then other times, I write an article and get tons of emails and comments with questions, praise, criticism, you name it, I get it. THIS is when I know my writing sparked something inside you. Not just something, but something strong enough to motivate you to hit “reply” or “comment” and spend time formulating a response. Good, bad, doesn’t matter. I’m simply happy to know that something I wrote woke something up inside you, that a part of you came alive. 

 

Since I received so many questions along the same idea, I wanted to address them here. In fact, your questions have inspired me to create a new section on my site called “Q&A with Tree”. This article is the first in that section. So let’s get started.

 

The core of the questions fundamentally came down to the idea that if you’re taking the witness seat, you’re not facing reality.

 

This is far from the truth. 

 

On the contrary, taking the witness seat puts you in a position to face reality in its fullness.

 

When you’re lost in your own thoughts or emotions, believing everything they tell you, you are only seeing one perspective of reality – the one created by your false self, by your fears, limitations and beliefs.

 

But that perspective isn’t the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That perspective has been tainted by past experiences – specifically YOUR past experiences and YOUR current judgments and beliefs on how things should and shouldn’t be. If there was a person standing in front of you, they would have a completely different perspective and their view of the reality in front of them would be tainted by their own past experiences, judgements and beliefs. So which reality is the truth. Is it yours or theirs? Or any of the other people within the vicinity? Ultimately, WHOSE perspective is the whole truth? 

 

When you take the witness seat, you’re able to step out from behind the veil of your limited one-sided perspective and see the bigger picture. You’re able to see the unfolding of experiences from a broader, more holistic perspective. You’re able to detach yourself from the identity of your false self and all its drama.

 

I grew up in a chess playing family. As early as the age of 8, my sister entered and won chess competitions against adults 5 times her age. I always enjoyed watching her play though I never enjoyed playing against her because she always beat me, and when you’re a kid, losing is no fun. I gleefully watched her beat adult after adult and I observed their intimidation tactics to try to get her to break and make a mistake. From an outsider looking in, I could see the anxiety and excitement of both players, I could see my sister trying to hide her nervousness and act like an adult, and I’d see the adults getting more and more flustered with each move she made. They were both amazed and frustrated at the skill of this lanky little poker-faced Asian girl with a ponytail and frayed bell bottom jeans. Being able to watch the game as an observer instead of a player, unattached to the outcome of winning or losing, I had a broader, clearer perspective of the moves being made, the strategies behind moves soon to be made and the players involved in making them. My vision became more keen to picking up subtle clues and shifts because it wasn’t tainted by my ego. I could watch, detached, as the players went through the gamut of emotions during the game, from the smug satisfaction of making a good move to the sudden disappointment of realizing they’d fallen into the opponent’s trap. 

 

Watching someone else’s chess game is like taking the witness seat. Since it’s not YOU winning or losing, you not only experience the game from a broader perspective, you also enjoy the game without emotionally identifying with or attaching yourself to a desired outcome. 

 

Witnessing life experiences unfold in front of you is the same. YOU, the soul of you, who you really are, the YOU who feels, can never be hurt by what happens. It neither wins nor loses. It simply observes. 

 

This might seem like a passive act of giving up or giving in to the situation but it’s rather the opposite. 

 

Ultimately, when you take the witness seat, your vision expands and your energy clears up allowing you to take action based on an intelligent force that rises up within you rather than the reactivity of fear and drama that often controls you.

 

If you read my story from the last post, you’ll notice that in the midst of the witnessing of my confrontation with my then-boyfriend, I didn’t stop yelling and screaming. I didn’t suddenly give up, lie down on the floor like a throw rug and tell him he could do anything he wanted to me or in the relationship. And I certainly didn’t stop hurting. 

 

It was my first conscious experience of witnessing, and even though my awareness detached from the drama, the drama still unfolded right in front of my eyes. I watched in awe as I noticed the drama originating from inside me, expressing itself outward, full well knowing in that moment that there were two of me. There was an emotional crazy me, crying, red-faced, sweating, yelling, screaming, blaming, pointing, arms gesturing abruptly, heart-broken, betrayed and angry.

 

And there was a calm soul me observing the animated human me in all her drama. 

 

The soul me was aware that it was just drama of the moment and nothing more. It didn’t have any weight to it.

 

But make no mistake, decisions still needed to be made. The “reality” of the life situation still needed to be faced. Whether I was taking the witness seat or not, the human me still needed to take action. Does she stay in the relationship or go? Does she forgive or hold on to the pain? If she leaves, what’s she going to do now with her single life? If she stays, can she ever trust him again? Does she give it time to settle down or does she walk out tonight? 

 

While I didn’t take inspired action in that moment, I’ve since become better at allowing my human self (what many call the false self, the little self, or the ego) to step out of the way in order to connect with my bigger self, my true self and the divine. In that moment, I was still too identified with my false self to let it go. I still believed that I had to teach my boyfriend a lesson, show him how much he hurt me and I was still lost in my own emotional hurts and expressing them in an unhealthy way. 

 

I ended up breaking up with him, subletting my Los Angeles apartment and flying to Missouri to stay with my parents until I could figure out what to do next with my life.

 

Even though the witness seat had shown me that everything was alright and I was okay, the actions I took were still based on fear, hurt and brokenness. My false self was still running my life and making all the decisions, and my soul self was simply enjoying the show. 

 

The more you take the witness seat, the more you allow your false self to step aside and your higher self to take over. Eventually, the decisions will be made by the higher self, inspired by love and goodness.   

 

But taking the witness seat takes practice. Daily. In fact, you can do it all day every day.

 

Use your ordinary life experiences as opportunities to practice. 

 

Someone cut you off on the freeway? Perfect opportunity to practice. Shift your body slightly up and back, signaling to yourself that it’s time to take the witness seat. Observe your thoughts and feelings. You might still curse the driver out but now you’re aware of yourself cursing the driver out. Now you’ve shifted your perspective from the one cursing to the one watching the cursing. 

 

As you practice with the little upsets throughout the day, you become better and better at it, and when a big upset happens, you’re in a stronger position to step back to witness. 

 

Eventually, in the moment of an upset, you’ll take the right action because you’re clearer, more open to divine inspiration guiding you rather than being compelled or pushed by fear and pain to react, manipulate or control the situation. 

 

In essence, your little self has stepped out of the way so that a higher you can lead. 

 

But for now, as you’re beginning your practice, start slow and simply watch yourself as you think your thoughts, feel your emotions and deal with your problems in any way that you normally deal with them. Your only task to begin is to become the thinker behind the thought, the feeler behind the feeling and the liver behind the life.

 

Whatever action you take, whether it’s inspired by knowing or motivated by fear, it doesn’t matter. What matters is you become the observer of it. If you find yourself screaming and yelling, become the one watching the screaming and yelling. This act alone is far more important than anything you can do, including trying to calm down, resolve the situation or show the other person how wrong they are. 

 

For now, simply observe. 

 

This is just the beginning. 

I don’t care about how you feel

I want to be lovingly (or brutally – you choose which word is accurate for you) honest with you today. Not that I’m not honest with you every time I write, but today, let’s get down to the core of how I really feel about your feelings. 

 

The truth is: I don’t care about how you feel.

 

Allow me to show you why. And once you understand this, you won’t care either. You’ll be free. 

 

Almost two decades ago, I found a used condom in my then-boyfriend’s small wicker trash basket by his toilet. The problem is that I was on the pill and we didn’t use condoms. 

 

My heart sank. I felt like someone punched me in the gut. 

 

While I waited for him to get home, my anger and anxiety rose. He’d told me he was going to softball practice with his office team. 

 

I knew better.

 

A tornado unfurled in my mind, whirling thoughts and emotions stormed through me. Unanswered questions and memories of times past when he’d come home late supposedly because he was working or some other reason. Were they all lies? How long had he been lying? Who was it? How could he do this?  

 

I was livid. And the more I waited, the more livid I became.

 

When he arrived home, I released the Kraken. 

 

I yelled and screamed and cussed and cried, my arms waving abruptly high and wide, slicing the air like swords, as I expressed how I felt. 

 

I don’t know how long I was at it, but suddenly, in a moment of pure grace beyond my control, my consciousness left my body. It was like what you see in the movies when someone dies and a semi-transparent, spirit-like floaty soul lifts up and out of the person’s physical body, and it looks back at the dead body on the ground, detached and curious. 

 

Except… I wasn’t dead. 

 

My body still went on in its dramatic expression, my fists still clenching and unclenching, my shoulders tight, my arms moving rigidly. My voice was still booming through the apartment, still yelling and screaming. My eyes were still overflowing tears, bloodshot, angry and hurt. 

 

I was still there… but I wasn’t. 

 

There was me, the betrayed girl, feet firmly planted on the ground, hurting, yelling, wailing and flailing. And then there was me, the calm soul, unharmed, watching the experience unfold in front of her. 

It was like there was a human me, and then there was a soul me, a deeper, more real me. 

 

Somehow, maybe because the pain was so intense, my soul did me a favor and removed me from the experience. One moment I was there, fully engulfed in the pain and drama, feeling anger, betrayal in every inch of my body and being, and the next moment, I’d been lifted out of the dense physical reality and given the gift of witnessing

 

Instead of being lost in the drama, I became a witness to the drama. It was no longer my drama, though I recognized that it was tied to me… but it was no longer personal. I no longer identified with it and it didn’t hurt me in the way it was hurting only moments before. It was like watching a movie where I know I’m an actor, and while I’m still experiencing all the emotions and pain and drama that the actor does, I’m aware that I’m merely an actor playing out my part, not the character living the drama. I inherently knew the pain was only hurting the fictional character, not the actor. 

 

It was surreal, to say the least, and my first conscious memory of what I’ve come to call “taking the witness seat”. 

This moment of taking the witness seat has helped me immensely throughout the years. It’s helped me come to the place I am today, where I can teach others about the importance of taking a step back, a step outside of their drama, and simply observe rather than trying to control. 

 

Even after having this experience, there are times I forget and still try to change or control the circumstances outside of me, stuck knee-deep in the drama, unable (or unwilling) to recognize the REAL ME in all this, the actor playing a role, the soul. 

 

We talk about emotions and how to let them flow, but usually what we REALLY want is to avoid the painful ones and hold on to the pleasurable ones. We want less suffering, more joy. Less anxiety, more calm. Less anger, more peace. Less constriction, more freedom. 

 

Often, instead of looking inward to get these, we try to change our external circumstances first. 

 

Had someone knocked on our apartment door that night, in the heat of our confrontation and asked me if I wanted to look inward to heal my hurt, I would’ve slammed the door in their face. 

 

Hell no. 

 

What I want is a loving, loyal partner who has the integrity and respect for himself and me enough to commit to an intimate, honest and nurturing monogamous relationship. Fuck that inner-work shit. Give me a good man, THAT’S what I want! And more so, in this very moment, what I want is to let my current lying, cheating partner know how bad he made me feel and how he ruined me and our relationship because of his lying, cheating ways! THAT’S what I want! Screw you and your let-it-flow-spiritual-inner-work shit!

 

That’s where I was two decades ago. 

 

Not today. 

 

Today, I lovingly recognize the role all my exes played in my unfolding, along with their own, and am truly grateful for the experiences we shared together, especially the painful ones that caused me to explore myself deeper, even if I didn’t know I was exploring myself. I recognize now that they, like me and all of us, are actors playing out our parts for the greater good of the perfectly orchestrated play.  

 

While I understood the importance of inner work back then, in the moment of seeing him walk through the apartment door with his crisp, white softball uniform on, knowing it had been put on likely in the car before coming upstairs to the apartment, I didn’t care to grow inwardly. All I cared about was letting him know how I felt, how much he hurt me. 

 

But here’s the truth of the matter. The deeper truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

 

It didn’t matter how I felt. 

 

What mattered was I who was feeling. 

 

This is the deeper truth, the core of things.

 

It’s not about how we feel. It’s not about how someone else made us feel. It’s not about what we’re feeling or any of the labels we’ve given our feelings (jealous, angry, betrayed, sad, mad, glad, happy, etc). 

 

It’s not about our feelings at all. 

 

It’s about the ONE who is feeling. 

 

WHO is the one feeling? This is the question to ask. 

 

Not, “HOW am I feeling?”  But, “WHO is feeling?”

I don’t care about how you feel. I care about YOU who feels.

Michael A Singer

Bestselling Author of The Untethered Soul

Who is the YOU who feels? Who is the YOU who has desires and preferences? Who is the YOU who feels emotions and energy bubble up? 

 

Who is the YOU?

 

The next time you have an argument with your partner or something happens that triggers a negative emotional response, take a step back into the seat of the witness, and watch as the barrage of thoughts and emotions swirl around in front of you. Witness the unfolding of the human drama without getting lost in it, without identifying with it. 

 

Instead of trying to explain how you feel to your partner, observe the one who is feeling

 

When your emotions are heated, it’s more difficult to do. So try practicing it throughout the day when your emotions are neutral and less charged so you can get used to it. It helps me to envision a spirit-like floaty me popping out of my body (like in the movies) and I can better detach from the physical human me with all her drama and embody more of the soulful witness me behind her. If you were standing next to me, you might see me shifting my upper body slightly up and back or even taking a physical step back. Making a physical movement back with my body helps get my mind into focus, setting the intention with my whole self (body, mind and spirit) that I’m shifting into the witness seat now. 

 

When we shift into the witness seat, we don’t judge ourselves or others (if we do, we simply notice ourselves judging), and the emotional pain we were completely immersed in moments before subsides. It may not go away, but we’re not as affected by it because we’re not identifying with it. It’s no longer personal. And instead of trying to manipulate or control the people and circumstances around us, we merely observe it, watching with presence and awareness as it unfolds in front of us. 

 

In your moment of witnessing, you come to realize that HOW YOU FEEL doesn’t have the importance you once placed on it. It’s as fleeting as the thoughts in your head. One moment happy, the next sad. One moment positive, the next negative. Thoughts and feelings are repetitive and while incessant, they’re impermanent compared to the soul of who you are. 

 

Once you start taking the witness seat, you discover that it’s never been about how you feel, it’s about YOU who feels. 

What’s it like to be an evolved & empowered empath? [Free Audio]

I’m so excited to be able to offer you a recording of my session at the Evolutionary Empath Summit with The Shift Network. This is one of my favorite interviews with one of my favorite topics – becoming an empowered empath!

In this 30-minute audio session, I answer some of your most popular (and painful) questions as well as offer insight into what’s next for an evolving empath.

Here are just some of the questions and topics we cover:

“Why do so many empathic people struggle with emotions?”

Why sad movies affect us so deeply.

Emotions 101: A basic lesson in emotions and what they really are.

The #1 thing we do that causes our emotional pain and drama.

“In addition to feeling our own emotions so intensely, empaths tend to absorb other people’s emotions, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. And we have a hard time figuring out what’s mine and what’s theirs, so how can an empath determine whose emotion is whose?” (I have a simple answer to this popular dilemma – when you hear it, you’re gonna kick yourself for having wasted so much time and energy trying to sort out all those emotions).

Why shielding and imagining protective bubbles weakens you.

An unpopular, counterintuitive approach to feeling negative feelings (you won’t want to do this, but if you ever want to be free of the grip of negative emotions, you MUST!)

When you feel like your emotions are a curse.

If you’re still trying to make your emotional pain go away, you haven’t yet learned this.

Our emotions are calling us to be present, to exist here and now, to serve as a witness to this moment, which, ironically is the last thing we want to do when we’re hurting.

The gift your emotions give you – Going deeper to see the beauty, wisdom and grace in our sorrow and pain.

Can we really control our emotions?

The beginning stages of your evolutionary journey when you’re still trying to stop your tears, tame your anger, anxiety or otherwise wrestle your emotion to the ground like it’s an alligator.

It’s not a curse to feel so deeply, it’s a calling. Are you listening?

There’s a huge difference from being triggered and reactive based on your emotions vs acting from a more conscious place, being grounded in your center.

My 4-Step Energy Shift from Painful to Powerful – only taught in my paid course, until now. You won’t want to miss this life-changing exercise.

What’s next for the evolving empath? What does that look like?  

All that, and more in this 30-minute session below. 

As mentioned above, I’ve never EVER publicly shared my 4-Step Energy Shift from Painful to Powerful exercise. I’ve only taught it to my private clients and in my paid course, Emotional Resilience. But for this Shift Network interview, I take you through the 4 steps, with the exact wording to use for each step and an explanation of why each step works. In my course, we dive deeper into the practice and spend an entire 20-minute video lesson on it, complete with worksheets and a guided exercise through the 4 steps. If you’re interested in diving deeper into the 4 steps and beyond, click here to learn more. This interview covers the basics of the 4 steps but it’s enough to dramatically shift your energy from anger and helplessness, for example, to joy and empowerment – within minutes and even SECONDS once you get the hang of it.

Try it for yourself and see. Listen to the interview below and the next time you find yourself feeling angry, frustrated or sad, do the four steps and see what happens.

I’d love to hear your experience! Please come back and let me know in the comments below once you’ve tried it.

How to Toughen Up Without Losing Your Soft, Sensitive Side

An interview with Tree Franklyn on The Shift Network's Evolutionary Empath Summit

This interview was part of the Evolutionary Empath Summit, a free online event featuring leading empathy experts, authors, and inspiring teachers sharing how to turn your sensitivity into your superpower. For more information about The Shift Network and their events, please click here. This recording is a copyright of The Shift Network. All rights reserved. 

Nontraditional, insensitive advice about feeling not-good-enough (that actually works)

 

[UPDATE: this event is over but you can listen to my talk here.]

 

Last week, I invited you to join me and an exclusive gathering of visionary empaths, sensitives, and intuitive leaders and teachers — including Dr. Judith Orloff, Grandmother Flordemayo, Wendy De Rosa, Sonia Choquette, Dr. Christine Page and more, at the Evolutionary Empath Summit 2019.

And then I learned that my session will be immediately following Wendy De Rosa and preceding Alan Seale on Thursday, May 16, 2019. That means my talk is wedged between the Founder of the School of Intuitive Studies and the Founder of the Center for Transformational Presence. And in the middle, you have uhhhh…. lil’ ol’ me, the Founder of… ummmm… Stick Girl? A website? A beautiful rock in the forest?

Get why I’m feeling a bit insecure?

I told my man the other day that I didn’t feel as “big” as some of the experts on the panel and I was worried that what I deliver may not be good enough.

He gave me the most unloving, insensitive, sledge-hammer-in-your-face advice ever!

And I love him for it.

You see, I was lost in a moment of “not-good-enoughitis” – you know that syndrome… it’s the twin sister of comparisonitis, when you compare yourself to others, see all their incredible accomplishments, amazing social media posts and you suddenly develop amnesia and forget all the wonderful things you’ve ever done and all the great things about yourself and you feel like a total loser, a fraud, a fake. Even though inherently, deep down, you KNOW you’re not… you still feel like it anyway.

Yep, I went there.

Not fun.

I was only there for a minute or two, though it had been building up in subtle pop-up thoughts here and there that I’d flick away like flies on a sweaty summer hike. But eventually, they finally swarmed me when I wasn’t paying attention to the present moment, and took over.

Fortunately, I have an incredibly insensitive tell-it-like-it-is man who doesn’t care about hurting my feelings and doesn’t bother softening his words around me. You think I’m kidding about the “fortunately” part, but I’m really not. I’m very fortunate that my boyfriend recognizes my inner strength and knows that I not only appreciate but also can handle the truth. He knows that if he holds me and strokes my hair and says “oh baby, you know you’re amazing,” that I’ll feel consoled and soothed, but it really won’t snap me out of it.

So instead, he said harshly, “Get over yourself!”

He said this to me once before when we first started hanging out years ago. I was sulking about my recent breakup and instead of consoling me in a sweet, soft way, he hit me with a verbal sledge-hammer that instantly made me realize I was feeling sorry for myself and so self-absorbed, I couldn’t see beyond my own limited perceptions. 

I knew then that he was the one for me. I knew he would never, ever let me get away with being less than I am. I knew that he would never coddle me or tip-toe around the truth, but instead would tell me what I need to hear.

So when he told me to get over myself this time, I knew he was right. 

I was self-absorbed again, wallowing in my own insecurity, losing my true SELF in my limited perceptions about myself. 

Immediately, my mind switched from “I’m not good enough compared to all these other famous experts” to “What I have to offer is good enough for those who need it – and those who need to hear it in the exact way that I offer it.”

Do you see the shift?

This is important, so I’ll spell it out.

Imagine you’re feeling down on yourself and someone tells you:

“You’re a beautiful soul and you’re good enough. You are worthy. God loves you.”

While this is true, does this ever snap any of us out of our insecurities? Or does it just make us feel slightly better within our own insecurity. But you’re still feeling unworthy. With these statements, true as they are, the focus is still on YOU. And in the moment of vibrating limiting thought energy about yourself, those words don’t do much to change your vibration because they are still self-focused, self-serving and self-absorbed, and they only do head service because they’re nothing more than empty words if you don’t believe them. 

Now contrast that to the three magic words:

“Get over yourself.”

If you stay present beyond the initial offensiveness, you’ll quickly realize this statement is geared to help you do exactly that, get over yourself and all your thoughts of insecurity. It also gives you an ACTION. It’s not a passive statement affirming truth like the first scenario, it’s an active statement affirming an implied truth – that there’s something more important than you and your insecurities. This statement is not so much about YOU as it is about GETTING OVER your limited perceptions about yourself. The focus is shifted off you so that you can put your attention on something more important… service to others. 

For me, those three magic words, “Get over yourself,” instantly catapults me out of myself (and all my self-serving thoughts) and puts the focus back on what’s more important, serving OTHERS. 

I realized (for the gazillionth time) that it’s not about ME. It’s about those I’m here to serve. It’s about YOU.

It doesn’t matter if I’m the Founder of Something Important or Nothing Important… 

…what matters is that I help YOU find your true self. 

And so, when I pay attention to my thoughts of not-good-enoughness or unworthiness, I’m serving my own limited perceptions. 

I’d rather serve others than my own limited perceptions any day, wouldn’t you?

Have you ever noticed how many years you’ve been trying to believe in yourself? How many seminars, workshops and courses have you taken, how many books have you read, how many audio programs have you listened to, how many affirmations have you made about how worthy you are?

And yet, here you are… still feeling not-good-enough. You might feel good enough until you stretch beyond your comfort zone (get a new job, new relationship, new speaker invitation or anything new) and then you’re back into those old feelings of unworthiness again. 

How is it that it’s taken you this many years and you still feel not good enough?

Could it be because all the other well-meaning self-help advice is missing one key element? All of it focuses on YOU. None of it focuses on what you’re here TO DO. 

On your death bed, which of these statements would make you feel the most fulfilled when uttered as your last statement:

1) I helped inspire hundreds of people to live happier, more meaningful lives. 

Or

2) I finally know my own worth. 

Take a moment to pause and think about that.

Which statement makes you feel most like you lived a life worth living?

Maybe you want both. 

That’s fair. 

But I believe you get to know your own worth by helping others know theirs. 

So next time you’re feeling unworthy, get over yourself, and focus on what you can do for others.

The moment you “get over yourself” and turn your focus and attention on serving others, all those limited perceptions about yourself fade into the background. 

And what’s left in front of you is the pure joy of serving others. 

If you haven’t already signed up, you can still join me at The Evolutionary Empath Summit, a one-of-a-kind online series (at no charge) as we illuminate the path for you to rise to your full potential and fulfill your highest mission and purpose.

Here’s some of what we’ll be sharing with you…

  • Judith Orloff will share self-protection strategies to help you prevent compassion fatigue, combat narcissists and other energy vampires, and integrate a jaguar protection meditation.
  • Grandmother Flordemayo will discuss how immersing yourself within nature using the four sacred elements can help replenish your soul and rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit.
  • Wendy De Rosa will help you discover your power as a healer, and will show you how to transform from the wounded healer to the empowered healer.
  • Sonia Choquette will show you how intuition unfolds in stages, first connecting you with your vibes, then your guides, and finally with your creative flow — empowering you to become a masterful joyful creator of your life, in tune with your true, natural design.
  • Dr. Christine Page will share how your intuition is the loving messenger of your soul, and how to attune your intuition so you can apply love and wisdom to the soul messages you receive every day.
  • Grandmother Sasa will show you how to take care of yourself as a healer so you can bring health and vitality to others.
  • Titanya Dahlin will guide you with tips on raising the new generation of empathic children (also known as Indigo, Rainbow, or Opalescent Children).
  • Jean Haner will show you what type of sensitivity you have (hint: you probably have more than one!) and how to follow your unique, personal map to power.
  • Rollin McCraty will illuminate how energetic sensitivity is related to intuition and empathy… and why extending genuine heart qualities — such as gratitude, compassion, or tolerance — affects your heart’s ability to synchronize with others.

[UPDATE: this event is over but you can listen to my talk here.]

The Evolutionary Empath

 

[UPDATE: this event is over but you can listen to my talk here.]

 

A few weeks ago, I mentioned an interview I did with a major network where the host asked me, “What’s next for the evolving empath?”

This has been brewing in me for the past couple of months and I haven’t been able to talk about it until now as the network has been busily preparing for this event behind the scenes.

Today, I’m thrilled to announce that I was interviewed by The Shift Network and am honored to be among more than 30 of today’s leading empathy experts, authors, and inspiring teachers — including Dr. Judith Orloff, Grandmother Flordemayo, Wendy De Rosa, Sonia Choquette, Dr. Christine Page, Grandmother Sasa, Titanya Dahlin, Jean Haner, Rollin McCraty, and others — sharing transformational strategies that promise to take you to a higher octave as a healthy empath.

Personally, I’m most excited that The Shift Network’s reach is infinitely far beyond my own (like in another Universe kind of far!) and I get to help hundreds of thousands, even millions, more empaths and sensitive souls discover their true abilities and gifts. To be able to serve in this massive way is beyond humbling, and to serve alongside a global movement whose mission is to create a sustainable, peaceful, healthy and prosperous world is a dream come true.

But enough about me! Let’s talk about YOU and what we created for YOU, dear one!

The Evolutionary Empath Summit is a free online event from May 14-17, 2019 where you’ll discover how to turn your sensitivity into your superpower!

You’ve heard me talk about how your sensitivities are a gift. Some of you believe me, some of you want to believe me, and some of you call B.S. That’s okay. Regardless of what you believe, now you can actually experience it for yourself.

Your ability to sense energy can empower your intuition — and we need YOU to bring your perceptions, ideas, and magnificent abilities to the world with everything you’ve got!

When you have the tools to ground into your power, you can stop feeling like a sponge and start becoming empowered by your sensitivity. This is how you serve and help create the peaceful world you desperately yearn for and want to live in. Become a part of this shift.

Whether you’re in survival mode and simply want to get out from underwater so you can breathe, or you’re beyond survival and ready to truly thrive, The Evolutionary Empath Summit will show you how.

During this groundbreaking 3-day event, you’ll:

  • Discover the key characteristics of being sensitive, empathic, and intuitive — and the similarities and differences between them
  • Receive strategies for self-care, recovering from burnout, and preventing overwhelm from striking in the first place
  • Ground into your own energy so you don’t take on the energy of others at your own expense
  • Explore modalities for healing from unhealthy family dynamics or multi-generational patterns
  • Uncover fresh insights into parenting if you’re a highly sensitive person or an empath — and/or if your children are sensitive, intuitive, or empathic
  • Develop yourself as a leader with sensitive entrepreneurship skills

We’ll offer you a clear path to your next level of sensitivity development — with easy-to-pick-up-and-run-with tools, tips, and practices that will enhance your internal guidance system.

Whether you’re newly aware of being an empath or a highly sensitive person… or you’re ready to step into unstoppable empowerment when it comes to owning your empathic gifts…

… join me for this one-of-a-kind online series (at no charge) as we illuminate the path for you to rise to your full potential and fulfill your highest mission and purpose.

In love and light,

Tree

[UPDATE: this event is over but you can listen to my talk here.]

 

Is FOMO & Facebook causing you to miss out on the important things?

Photographer: Susan Werner

People have been asking me, “Tree, are you alive?”

Yes.

Very much so.

I haven’t consistently published new blog posts in months and my social media accounts are so quiet, even introverted crickets stay away.

Last year, I wrote about taking time off to heal some wounds (physical, emotional and spiritual). You can read about it in this post, “What Dims Your Light?” and this, “The Call to Surrender.”

If you’re on my email list, you would’ve received updates about my healing journey and how the wounds have since been nurtured and accepted.

Side note: I don’t publish everything I send to my subscribers. I like to think of my list as a free insider’s membership, Tree & Stick Girl’s Inner Happy family, where you get access to parts of me that the general web visitor doesn’t. Stick Girl and I often share insights, updates and valuable resources with our Inner Happy family that we don’t always make public. So if you’d like to be a part of the family, you can join for free by clicking the button below. You’ll also get some free downloads (including my top 10 morning actions that I’ll discuss below in this article) and be first to know about new events, upcoming projects and announcements before I post them publicly. 

But whether you’ve joined the Inner Happy family or not, I’ve still been pretty M.I.A. lately.

The truth is…

After taking so much time off from social media, blogging and all things online, I’m not only really enjoying myself, I’m also more connected to divine source. I feel at peace with myself, the world and God. Small things don’t annoy me so much. Big things don’t carry the weight they used to. I’m having more a-ha moments of insight, spiritual wisdom and soulful epiphanies. I’ve discovered a deeper sense of purpose and meaning.

And most of all, I’ve finally come to know that I’m not alone. Never have been. Never will be.

And neither are you!

It was difficult to go offline. For me personally, to stop writing regularly to you, dear reader, and to stop checking Facebook were by far the most difficult. I felt like I was missing out on the world, on building relationships, on other people’s lives. But I’ve realized all the other things I’ve been missing due to my incessant FOMO (fear of missing out). Ironically, FOMO actually causes one to miss out… on the deeply important things. The thing we fear causes us to do the very thing we’re afraid of!

Let me illustrate this with two scenarios.

Imagine waking up in the morning after a mildly restful night’s sleep. You could use another hour of sleep but you have to get ready for work. Your body’s tired, your neck’s stiff, and you linger in bed, procrastinating the inevitable as you tell yourself “just five more minutes”. You can’t fall back asleep and your mind starts wandering, wondering what you’ve missed while you were sleeping. Alone in bed with only your thoughts, a tinge of isolation and emptiness begins to creep up inside you.

Without thinking, you reach for your iPhone on the nightstand and tap the Facebook icon. Immediately, the emptiness is replaced by a sense of gratification and connection. Aaahhh, you’re plugged in again. Your body rewards you with a nice hit of dopamine, like a drug fix without drugs. The problem is after a few seconds of scrolling, you start feeling numb, angry or hopeless about the human race. Your spirit sort of checks out and your human ego checks in. Maybe there’s a cute cat gif that makes you smile for a second, but that’s quickly replaced by the next story in your feed, an online friend’s opinionated rant about the latest happenings in the White House, or their views on eating meat, or fill-in-the-blank for anything that causes your blood pressure to spike.

A heavy knot in your stomach starts to grow. You HAVE TO comment. You HAVE TO enlighten them. You HAVE TO explain why this is so wrong. Because, maybe, just maybe, something you write will spark a glimmer of reason, sensitivity and compassion within them that they might finally see the truth. You tell yourself you don’t want to get into it, you could just let it go and scroll up to the next story, but you can’t help yourself and start typing anyway.

Except your friend doesn’t respond the way you’d hoped, and not only that, their like-minded friends have chimed in and now you’re in a heated commentary war with no resolution and you carry that knot with you long after you’ve closed the app.

If you’ve learned to stay away from social media comments, maybe you saw another friend’s post asking for prayers for her friend over the tragic injustice that happened to their little daughter and now you’re carrying the sadness of your friend’s friend’s suffering and wondering how God could let such a horrible thing happen and how awful it must be for her family. You don’t even know them but you can feel their sorrow and pain deeply… and it haunts you all day.

Compare that to a second scenario:

Imagine waking up in the morning after a mildly restful night’s sleep. You could use another hour of sleep but you have to get ready for work. Your body’s tired, your neck’s stiff, and you linger in bed, procrastinating the inevitable as you tell yourself “just five more minutes”. You can’t fall back asleep and your mind starts wandering, wondering what you’ve missed while you were sleeping. Alone in bed with only your thoughts, a tinge of isolation and emptiness begins to creep up inside you.

Instead of reaching for your iPhone, you reach for your journal. You write down your thoughts and feelings, and in between sentences, you stop to listen to what else might be percolating inside you. Maybe your inner child springs up out of nowhere to tell you she’s feeling neglected. Maybe you give her the pen for a few minutes and allow her to write out her unexpressed thoughts and feelings. Maybe you hear something else… a whisper from deep within you, a calling to get back in touch with who you are beyond the human ego and all its titles, perceptions, beliefs, desires, struggles and goals.

If you don’t like journaling, you could use these “just five more minutes” moments to meditate, draw, paint, create, stretch, dance, read a chapter from spiritual literature, listen to inspiring music, look at yourself in the mirror and say “hi, how’ve you been? I’ve missed you,” or a myriad of other self-honoring activities that bring you closer to the root of who you are rather than take you further away into your distracted, egoic state.

You can then carry this more grounded YOU into the rest of your day and you’ll find that you’re not as easily upset by the little annoying things that generally pop up throughout the day.

By waking up in the morning and reaching for the phone to check emails or scroll the news or social media feeds, you’re missing the opportunity for a quiet, sacred moment with yourself at the beginning of the day. You’re missing out on giving yourself a strong mental, emotional and spiritual grounding before your feet even touch the floor.

This, my friend, is my new standard for FOMO. I fear that by consistently consuming other people’s opinions, beliefs and experiences (on social media, news, TV, internet, books or otherwise), I’m missing out on nourishing my own soul.

This doesn’t only apply to mornings. I carry this standard with me throughout the day.

We’ve become so addicted to that quick dopamine spike from checking emails, texts, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more, we’re caught in an endless, unconscious loop all day every day. Like any addiction, it takes a lot of self control to get out of it. I’ve found that most habits are easier to break when we replace it with a more positive action.

And it doesn’t have to be drastic. No need to throw our phones away or go offline completely forevermore. For example, instead of checking emails on your phone for the thousandth time in 2 minutes, you could open your Rumi app just one of those times and read a couple passages of his poetry, if that’s what inspires you. Or you can pause for a moment, take a deep breath and check in with yourself before rushing off to the next thing on your To-Do list. Small actions like this, repeated consistently over time, spins you out of the unconscious loop and into a new, more mindful loop that serves your soul rather than your ego.

Before long, you’ll find that when you do spend time online, it will be with intention, focused and highly productive. And the extra time you have (which used to be spent mindlessly scrolling) will be filled with more enjoyable, meaningful and impactful activities.

Don’t let Fear of Missing Out make you miss out on the important things in life. 

In fact, use it to your advantage by changing your standards of what you’re missing out on.

Would you rather miss out on taking mindful action or repeating mindless activity?

Would you rather miss out on connecting with your soul or connecting with a Facebook friend who you don’t even remember how they became your Facebook friend in the first place because you’ve never met them in real life?  

Would you rather miss out on gaining deep spiritual insight about yourself or gaining information about the random car chase that’s happening 5 states over and has nothing to do with you or your life?

If you want more examples of simple morning grounding techniques, you can download my Top 10 Morning Actions for free. You don’t have to use all of them, of course, and a few of them take about as long as it takes to pick up your phone, tap the Facebook icon, and scroll. 

For those of us who are sensitive to other people’s energy in person or online, it’s important to start our day rooted in strength & positivity. Ever feel good in the morning at home but by the time you get to the office, you’re moody and want to kill everyone? Point made. Use any of these 10 simple actions to make sure you don’t turn homicidal throughout the day. Just click here to let us know where to send your free PDF.

PS – If you’re already subscribed to this site, just search your emails for a Welcome letter from us and you’ll find a link to access it. 

What’s Next for the Evolving Empath?

I recently did an interview with a major network where I talked about being an empath, feeling deep emotions and how to transmute them. I’m sworn to secrecy about the details of the interview for now, but I’ll be able to talk about it later this month as it gears up to go live.

Toward the end of the interview, the host asked me, “What’s next for an evolving empath?” and I felt a joyful fire unexpectedly light up inside my belly at the thought of the question… and the promise of the answer for YOU, fellow empath.

Knowing the darkness, confusion, disappointment and total brokenness from where you came, and also knowing the light, playfulness, joy and total POWER of where you’re going, it absolutely delights me to be able to witness your evolutionary journey!

This website was originally created for those in darkness, those who are emotionally overwhelmed and just learning what it means to be an empath and a sensitive soul. This website was created to offer a guiding light, like a lighthouse shining brightly in the darkness to help lost ships navigate their way to safety. Stick Girl and I wanted to help guide you to land, so you can plant your feet firmly on the ground. So you can know how it feels to be anchored and solid and sovereign within yourself.

Because you had been lost at sea, your emotional sea legs were so wobbly, you kept falling down and hurting yourself.

Because you had been beaten black and blue and whipped back and forth by the merciless winds of life, you stopped trusting.

Because you had listened to everyone else when they told you weren’t good enough, you forgot who you truly are.

This website was originally created for the newly awakening, newly emerging empath who was just starting to open her eyes, sleepily, after a groggy lifetime of living in darkness and not-knowing of her true power.

But I never intended for you to stay there, dear one. I never intended for you to be stuck in the newly awakening, newly emerging phase of your journey. I never intended for you to stay in bed, basking in this new awareness, this new glimpse of your power.

I wish for you to keep growing and becoming more of your true self and discovering that your evolution is infinite, there is no end. There is rest, perhaps, a small reprieve to lay down for a while and settle in the mold of the new, emerging you, to let the growing pains subside a bit… but then there’s more.

It keeps going.

You are not done, yet.

And so, to help you out of the initial phase, I want to offer a practice, a tool, to help you move from one evolutionary level to the next. This is for you as much as it is for me. To be completely transparent and honest, I don’t want to write about overwhelming emotions anymore. I don’t want to focus on your pain and show you tips and tricks to get through it. I don’t want to guide you out of the darkness.

Let’s move beyond the darkness together. 

Let’s get into the light and let’s talk about using our power to serve humanity, rather than just figuring out how to survive the day. If you’re still in self-survival mode, there’s nothing wrong with that. We all must go through the evolutionary steps from the bottom up. There are plenty of articles on this site to help you through it. You can start with my Emotional Survival Guide here. It’s free. If you’re beyond the basics of emotional survival, you can dive deeper with my Emotional Resilience course here, and get a taste of your own inner power.

For those who’ve taken my courses or practiced my techniques as taught in the Emotional Survival Guide or any of my other writings, or figured out your own way to break free from survival-mode, the rest of this article is for you.

It’s Emotional-Transmutation 101.

It’s a practice I used in the past to learn how to transmute emotions, how to not only release painful emotion (survival) but also taking the next step (evolving) and learning how to turn that same painful emotion into something powerful and positive.

Make no mistake, this is not about positive thinking. It’s about ENERGETIC ALCHEMY. We’re not just making the best of our pain, we’re literally transforming it.

Allow me to show you how, first, with a true story…

Six months after my dad died in 2013, I woke up to a wet pillow. I had been crying in my sleep. In my dream, I was with my dad and I watched him die. I experienced the pain of his death all over again.

Whether you’re dreaming or awake, the sorrow is real. You can’t tell yourself it was just a dream and make the pain go away. The emotions linger long after the dream has been dreamt.

In the dream, we were walking home together and suddenly he was lying on the ground, on the cold, hard cement of the sidewalk. His chin curled tightly to his chest and he was hunched in an odd, circular way. The look in his eyes was one I’m too familiar with now. It was the same look he had in my awake life the week he lay in the hospital dying of leukemia. It’s the I’m-dying-and-there’s-nothing-that-can-be-done-about-it look that I have not been able to get out of my mind’s eye since.

Some things you just can’t unsee.

A dark crimson liquid began oozing from under his chin onto the gray pavement, staining it red. I touched it and realized it was blood. I reached under his chin with my hand and put pressure on his neck where he was bleeding, not caring that my hand was being bled on by someone else’s blood, not worrying that I had a cut on my index finger.

He looked up at me, scared, pale, a faded pasty white yellow.

I leaned in closer to him and stroked his bald, fragile head. As he breathed out, I breathed in the air he had just exhaled and suddenly I was sobbing, telling him how sorry I was for not talking to him for 10 years, how I wished I could have those years back, how I wished I would have known what I know now about anger, forgiveness and compassion and how sorry I was for hurting him.

As the words spilled out of me, he inhaled my sorrow with his breath and I saw forgiveness exhale out of his eyes. It was as if everything had become our breathing. We breathed in the present moment and breathed out the pain, the regret, the love, the fear, the dying, everything.

It all became the breath.

One breath.

And then the breath left him.

His body was still there but he was gone. And I was left alone with only my own breath and an empty shell of a body in my arms. I collapsed onto his chest and sobbed.

And then I woke up, still sobbing.

Being an empath, I often have vivid, emotionally charged dreams.

Usually I’m able to let them go quickly but the pain of this one followed me throughout the day.

I had recently moved into my own apartment after a difficult breakup and I spent the day unpacking leftover boxes and trying desperately to take my mind off the dream. But the image of my dad bent over inhaling my sorrow repeated itself over and over and I just couldn’t shake it.

What did that mean? Why did he inhale my sorrow? And why did he exhale love in return?

Then I stumbled across an old shoe box I had forgotten about. Inside was a small Weeping Buddha I’d sculpted out of clay years ago. It looked just like the image in my mind of my dad curled up, inhaling my sorrow. Suddenly I knew exactly what to do. Within 10 minutes, my pain had been replaced by a deep sense of peace that penetrated my entire being.

There are several different stories about the Weeping Buddha and how it came to be. One story is that the Weeping Buddha weeps for the pain and suffering of the world. He absorbs the pain for humanity and transmutes it with his own being.

When I hold a Weeping Buddha in the palm of my hand, I feel deeply loved. Maybe it’s the round, delicate curvature of the shape which adds to its softness, but instantly it connects me to my compassionate nature and I feel an overwhelming sense of appreciation to be part of his story and part of something larger than myself that’s unconditionally loving, giving and compassionate.

I realize now that my dad was trying to show me how to not only release, but also transmute my pain over his death. From the other side, he visited me in my dreams to give me my first conscious lesson in transmuting emotions.

Whether you’re an empath, a highly sensitive person or simply one who feels deeply, here’s how to use the Weeping Buddha (or any object) to transmute your own pain.

Note that this could be ANY object. For me, the Weeping Buddha became my personal symbol of transmuting sorrow, but for you, it could be anything else. Follow your own impulses and let the Universe show you your own personal object of alchemy. It could be a rock you found while hiking. Or a piece of jewelry that resonates with you. Or a cross if you love Jesus. It doesn’t matter.

The steps are the same.

1) Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed.

This is non-negotiable. You must be alone for this, especially if you’re new to energetic alchemy. Eventually you’ll stand with such sovereignty in your own power that it doesn’t matter who or what is around you, but for now, if there’s someone else around, you may absorb their emotions and find it harder to release yours. Their energy can get muddled up in yours and you’ll find it difficult to sort out. Nest yourself in your room, a closet, a bathroom, wherever you can go to be alone and undisturbed. Turn off your phone, the TV and anything that makes distracting noises. If classical music or any other music puts you in a sacred, peaceful state, it’s okay to play it softly.

2) Sit comfortably.

You can sit in traditional Lotus position or any position that makes you comfortable. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the floor, a bed or a chair.  I find that sitting on a pillow on the floor tends to ground me more as I envision roots shooting from my core deep into the earth harnessing its strength and power.

3) Hold the object in your hands.

Hold the Buddha in the left palm of your hand and cup the top of the Buddha with your right. In energy healing, the left hand receives energy and the right hand gives it. You can rest your hands in your lap or hold them out in front of your chest, near your heart.

4) Close your eyes and breathe deeply.

Take a few deep, long centering breaths in and out. Become mindful of the present moment, letting go of any thoughts that arise. Take your time, and if you feel frustration or impatience come up, breathe deeper and let them go too. Continue breathing and turning deeper inward with each breath. If you find it difficult to quiet your mind, count silently as you breathe in and then out. The act of counting still keeps your mind active, but at least it’s not thinking about your To-Do list or what you’re going to make for dinner or how silly you feel. Repetitive counting is a meditative, passive form of activity since you don’t really need to think about what comes after 2 or 3 or 4, your subconscious knows how to count, and often your conscious mind gets bored of counting and finally surrenders itself to the subconscious.

5) Transfer your sorrow to the object.

Imagine that your sorrow is flowing away from your core, from your heart or wherever you feel it in your body, down your right arm, out through your right palm and into the Buddha. Give yourself permission to hand over your sorrow to him. It’s OK. He can handle it, he wants to take your pain from you. That is his gift. And that’s how much he loves you. Sit with this as long as you need to. Don’t take this paragraph with a grain of salt and skim through it. Let these words sink in, deeper. The Buddha WANTS to take your suffering from you. It longs to help you. You are deeply loved and it wants nothing more than for you to KNOW this. This has nothing to do with being Buddhist or not, by the way. The object is just a symbol. Whatever the object you hold in your hand, transfer this knowing onto it and trust that divine source loves you and wants you to be free.

For many, this step can bring up powerful emotion, especially deep old wounds from the past that have never been healed or properly released. Let the pain arise, don’t push it back, fight it or judge it. Keep breathing deeply, allow yourself to cry, wail or sob. Remember that all your emotions are being transferred to the Buddha, but in order for them to be transferred, they must first flow through you. It’s perfectly safe to let them flow.

6) Receive the object’s peace.

When you’ve released, you’ll know. You’ll feel lighter. You may still experience some sadness or pain but it will be noticeably less. Once you start feeling a shift in your energetic field, visualize the Buddha’s peace flowing out of him into your left palm, up your left arm and into your heart and core. Give yourself permission to receive his peace. Let the Buddha take your sorrow and transform it. The Weeping Buddha has an infinite supply of peace and can take on an infinite amount of sorrow. This is why he’s created in the shape of a circle, he’s never ending and curves inward within himself infinitely.

This step causes a deep energetic shift in some. For many of us, we’ve never experienced the unconditional love and compassionate giving that the Weeping Buddha offers. If you feel moved to cry or even weep during this step, know that it’s a natural part of the process of energetic releasing and healing.

And for even more of us, we’ve never moved beyond the step of releasing our painful emotions. We stopped at step 5. We didn’t know there was a step 6 or beyond. We were simply relieved not to feel so much overwhelming pain and sorrow.

But step 6 is where we empaths evolve closer toward what we were created to be and do.

We are alchemists of energy. We are transmuters of energy in motion (emotion) and we can turn sorrow into peace, sadness into joy, darkness into light. Curving inward within ourselves, we discover that we ARE the weeping buddhas of the modern world. We are infinite sources of peace, love and energy.

Eventually, we’ll no longer need symbols like weeping buddhas and we’ll no longer need to hold objects in our hands and transmute energy through them. We’ll know how to do this naturally, in a crowded room, with nothing more than our intention.

But for now, this is how we begin.

This is how we practice becoming.

7) Express your gratitude.

Once you feel as though your sorrow has been transmuted to peace, thank the Weeping Buddha. This step may seem obvious or silly, but I’m amazed how many people get up and put the Buddha away without giving its due honor. Expressing gratitude not only reveals your kindness, it’s also a good mindful practice to develop, and in this exercise, it creates a closing ceremony that supports your transition into the rest of your day.

Plus, the Buddha appreciates being thanked for his service, just like one day, someone will thank YOU for your service of transmuting their sorrow into peace.

One day, someone will say to you, “I don’t know why, but I feel calmer around you, more at peace.”

And you’ll smile to yourself, knowing EXACTLY why. Because you’re an energy alchemist. You’re an empath and this is what you were put here on this densely vibrating earth to do.

You weren’t put here to struggle and survive.

You are here to play and dance with the Universe like the photo at the top of this article.  

You are here to evolve into the powerfully transformative being that you already are.

You are here to become… to come into your beingness… to come home to YOU.

Now, let’s get on with it, shall we?

Answering the Call of Your Emotions

 

“I want to watch that movie with you,” my stepdaughter said Friday night after watching “Five Feet Apart” with her friends. I asked her why, knowing that she’s already seen it twice.

 

“Because it’s devastating.”

 

“Why in the world would I want to watch a devastating movie?”

 

“Because it makes you appreciate life.”

 

I wanted to tell her I already appreciate life, that we don’t need to be devastated to find appreciation for life, but before I could speak, she added poignantly, “and because it makes you FEEL.”

 

As an empath, I feel everyday. Deeply. Emotions run deep in my core. I love this about myself. I love feeling. Regardless of the emotion flowing through me, I’m grateful to be an open vessel through which emotion CAN flow.

 

I haven’t always been like this. It’s taken me decades to get to this point, to not only openly allow emotions – of all kinds – to flow, but to love it. There was a time when I felt so much sorrow, I lay in bed every night praying not to wake up in the morning. There was a time when I felt sadness so deeply, I begged God to have the mercy to take away my feelings.

 

I wanted to be like Data in Star Trek The Next Generation, the android who couldn’t feel emotions, but instead, I was Deanna Troi, the empath who felt everyone’s emotions.

 

Ironically, Data’s lifelong dream was to become more human and feel emotions, and my favorite episodes were the ones where he used his “emotion chip,” a device designed by his creator to allow him to feel human emotions.

 

Many people, empath or not, tend to “Data” themselves out, to turn off their “emotion chip”. When we don’t know how to effectively deal with our emotions, it’s a self-protective reaction to numb ourselves out, to block the flow of emotions. We think it gets us through the day, allows us the strength to do what needs to be done, like facing our co-workers or customers with a smile on our faces, or pick up the kids after school, or accomplish our daily to-do lists.

 

As one client puts it, “if I didn’t turn off my emotions, I’d never get anything done. I’d lie in bed all day, a crying, bumbling mess.”

 

The problem is we’re not androids. We can’t just flip a switch internally and walk without fear into a battle. At least, not without repercussions. Even when we think we’re turning off our emotions, we’re merely suppressing them, pushing them away… for the moment. They’re still there, bubbling underneath, waiting for us to let our guards down so they can break free from our controlling grip.

 

This is one of the reasons why many empaths and sensitives are exhausted and chronically fatigued… it’s a lot of work keeping those emotions down. It’s like holding a beach ball under water all day, every day. We do it for so long, we don’t even realize we’re doing it anymore.

 

But our bodies know.

 

Our spirits know.

 

Our psyche knows.

 

Sometimes it’s important to put our emotions aside momentarily to get things done, like the time my dad died and my sisters and I needed to keep it together long enough to talk to the funeral home to figure out what to do with his body, fill out the necessary paperwork and settle his affairs. Sometimes we need to compose ourselves to take care of what’s in front of us.

 

But many of us have decided that “keeping it together” at ALL times is more important than allowing ourselves to feel some of the time.

 

We, as a society, have become so routinely and habitually numb to life, in the name of self-preservation and “getting things done” that we need movies like “Five Feet Apart” to give us the permission to feel again, to reboot our emotion chip and allow us to see deeper into the human condition, beyond work, sleep and bills.

 

We spend so much time and energy trying to figure out the surface level of our lives, focusing on things that don’t truly matter and we forget that there’s something deeper that flows through all of us, there’s a meaning, a purpose, a GRACE, that underlies everything. When we numb ourselves from deep emotions, we tend to stay on the surface of life. We don’t feel the grace that flows endlessly to, through and from us. We spend hours in our heads, carried away by non-essential problems such as why our co-worker criticized us, the  nerve of a Facebook friend’s political post, or how gas prices are going up.

 

We put all our focus on the surface and forget about the depth of life.

 

The movie touched my stepdaughter in a way that life touches me every day. She’s already seen it twice and wants to see it again. It’s become somewhat of an obsession with her, a compulsion to feel, to be moved, inspired, driven to view life with a deeper perspective. It’s beautiful to witness, to be honest, in a 16 year old who typically just wants to go the mall with her friends and buy clothes.

 

There’s a craving, a calling in all of us to touch something deeper… within ourselves, within life. It’s a yearning to belong, connect and transcend the veil of our ordinary, everyday lives.

 

Some of us live this deeper calling every day, even though we move around performing our daily activities as though we are of this surface world, doing laundry, washing dishes, sitting in traffic, we carry the consciousness of grace with us everywhere we go and it infuses our daily lives with meaning and purpose.   

 

Some of us have lost touch with this deeper calling. We deny it, block it out, resist it. It started the moment we felt an emotion that was too painful, we didn’t want to feel it. Or when someone else criticized us for feeling something they didn’t think we should be feeling. Or when we were told we need to “toughen up”. At one point, we made a decision, conscious or not, to “get it together” and push away our emotions. And then one painful moment shoved aside after another, day after day, we started to become good at it, and eventually our emotion chip defaulted to numb (numb is a feeling too, by the way).

 

And we forgot how to feel deeply. We forgot how to open ourselves up to the flow because the in-your-face demands of daily living felt greater than the in-your-soul calling.

 

It’s only when something devastating happens, or you watch a movie that emotionally devastates you, do you allow yourself to let go of the controlling grip on your emotions and FEEL again. The beach ball pops up out of the water and into the air with abandoned fervor like a prisoner who’s finally been set free after decades.

 

And the calling to witness the grace of life, in all its brutality and beauty, becomes alive in you again.

 

Your emotions are the answering of the call. They aren’t your enemy, they’re your doorway to Life, God, Presence, Grace.

 

There are four stages of an empath’s life, which I’ll write about in a future post, but if you’re just starting out and struggling with your emotions on either end of the spectrum (feeling too much because your emotions are overwhelming, or not enough because you’re numbing yourself out), you can dive deeper and learn more here.

 

For now, the best thing you can do for yourself is the same thing you initially did to become numb, but in reverse. Take it one emotion at a time and practice letting your emotions flow instead of resisting them. Start with any emotion and follow these 3 steps:

 

  1. Acknowledge it instead of shoving it aside.
  2. Invite it to flow through you without judgment.
  3. Allow yourself to feel it. 

 

You don’t have to do anything about the feeling other than sit there and feel it. 

 

We are more powerful than our emotions. Our emotions can’t hurt us without our permission.

 

Separate yourself from the emotion by acknowledging that you are the vessel through which the emotion (energy in motion) flows. If you feel sad, YOU aren’t sad. You’re simply feeling the emotion of sadness flowing through you. YOU, however, are just fine.

 

Ode to a Christmas Tree (and all tossed out lovers, everywhere)

Photo by Jeswin Thomas

 

I’m not usually one to write sad posts. So if you prefer not to cry sad tears today, feel free to stop reading. No offense taken. My desire is to add some depth and poignancy to offset the sadness, so we can all be touched deeply in some way by reading it… taking the sadness in and ingesting it, seeing the beauty of life, the grace, the divine…

 

Every year after Christmas, I cry over the millions (billions?) of trees killed for the sole purpose of adorning living rooms during Christmas. When I lived in the city, I used to see them laid out on the curb, house after house after house, stripped of their lights, ornaments and…. well, LIFE.

 

This makes me sad.

 

In full disclosure, this year, our family bought one of these trees… a cut tree… for Christmas. We usually buy potted, living trees and replant them on our property. We’ve been doing this for years, but this year, for some reason, my man decided to get a cut tree. So I made the best of it.

 

But I’m still sad for the beauty of the life that will soon be gone, simply for our pleasure.

 

I know that in the grand scheme of things, all is well. The life of the tree still lives on, and the tree (like our human bodies) is merely a vessel through which the divine life flows. Long after the vessel, the tree and our human body is gone, the life that once flowed through it all, still flows.

 

But I’m still sad for the tree.

 

As I watch it dry up and next week, as we strip it of its ornaments and lights, we will mulch it up and put it in our rose garden, so the life can flow through our roses for years to come.

 

I wrote today’s post, a poem of sorts, in ode to our tree, and to Christmas trees everywhere…. and funny enough… it sounds awfully familiar to the feelings I once had in past relationships as I felt tossed to the curb!

 

Hmmm….imagine that. Art resembling life.

 

Go figure. 😉

 

Sadness is often a gateway to deeper riches inside you. Don’t shy away from it, embrace it… and allow yourself to be touched.

 

ODE TO A CHRISTMAS TREE

 

I remember the day we met.

 

You looked at me, eyes gleaming with hope and promise.

 

You took me to your home, eager to find a central space within it for me.

 

You couldn’t wait for me to meet your family, they too would love me, you thought.

 

You adorned me with jewels, carefully picking out just the right sparkle to help me shine.

 

You turned me on every night and gazed up and down, admiring my beauty.

 

You took deep breaths, inhaling me and commented on how you love my natural smell.

 

You filled me with love, attention and admiration.

 

You gave me your all.

 

And I gave you mine.

 

And then, the day came when it was over.

 

You stripped me of the jewels you so lovingly, meticulously placed on me.

 

You turned your gaze away, no longer lingering on me, not even for a moment.

 

You stopped breathing me in.

 

I became a pain. A big mess. Something you now must get rid of.

 

But what you don’t know (or care to admit) is…

 

I was born for you.

 

I was raised to make you happy, to bring beauty, cheer and joy into your heart and home.

 

This, I did for you.

 

Why?

 

Because I had no choice. Because that’s my purpose. Because that’s why I exist.

 

And I did it happily and proudly. I served you when you needed me most.

 

But now the time has come. You’ve moved on.

 

I’m no longer needed.

 

You’re casting me out. Tossing me on the curb. I’m old and dried up now. Our moment’s gone.

 

Stripped of my jewels and your love, I’ll die slowly on the curb. Alone.

 

As I lie helpless on my side, I look down the street and see other throw-aways like me, once beloved and now dumped on the curb, too.

 

Dry.

Brittle.

Abandoned.  

 

Our purpose fulfilled.

 

Until someone else comes to take us away.

 

They’ll have a new purpose for us. They’ll cut us up, break us to pieces, turn us to mulch.

 

Only, we’re already broken. You just can’t see deep enough to notice.

 

And you’ll go back into your home, close your front door, feel good that you did your part in the circle of life.

 

And I’ll do my part.

 

Because I have no choice. Because that’s what they created me to do.

 

Goodbye.

 

Love,

 

Your Christmas Tree

 

 

Dreading the family holiday gathering?

Photo by Carl Flor

 

I used to dread family holiday gatherings.

 

On one hand, I wanted to see my family for Christmas because we lived in different states and I missed them. I Iove the idea of family gathered around the Christmas tree opening presents together, celebrating and reminiscing over shared memories, and sitting around the dining room table feasting and laughing over inside jokes, bonding in a way only family can, because, well, it’s family, and there’s nothing like being with people you’ve been with throughout your formidable years, who know you in a way no one else could possibly know, even if you told them your entire life story.

 

But after a few hours together, I felt drained and exhausted. After a week, I was ready to shoot myself, or someone else.

 

In my twenties, being the token single friend with out-of-state family, my friends would invite me to their family gatherings for the holidays and it always made me feel more lonely to be with their families than to be alone. After all, I was the outsider who didn’t get the inside jokes or shared memories.

 

I moved out of my parents house when I was 17 and had been traveling to different cities and states every few years like a gypsy. I saw my family once or twice a year when they visited or when I flew home for summer vacation or holiday break. I both dreaded and looked forward to them at the same time. They were always bittersweet visits with a mixture of fun and dysfunction, sometimes the latter outweighing the former causing me to swear I’d never fly home for the holidays again.

 

Until I forgot just how bad it was and flew home the following year.

 

To offset the dread, I started using my visits as gauges to measure how far I’d progressed emotionally, spiritually and mentally.

 

Maybe you can relate… maybe you’ve done a lot of work on yourself, attended seminars and workshops and took the Self-Love Course for Sensitive Souls and you feel strong and grounded in yourself… maybe you’re a boss, give orders and people look up to you at work… or maybe you’ve created a solid network of friends and acquaintances who mutually respect you, and your adulting life is pretty good… and then you fly out to your parents’ house for the holidays, the home you grew up in, and suddenly you’re that awkward 12 year old again, feeling dismissed, neglected and not-enough. You find yourself reflexively repeating past patterns that you were sure you’d broken, reacting in ways you promised yourself you wouldn’t, and feeling familiar old emotions that you thought you’d healed after years of therapy.

 

You’re deeply hurt by an off-the-cuff remark, verbally attack back in a way that goes against your new spiritual practice of love and oneness, and stew in the remark and your unspiritual reaction for the rest of the trip, unable to let it go.

 

You thought you were over your childhood issues, you’re an adult now, after all, and you’ve watched all the Super Soul Sundays and read all the Louise Hay books. You’re a spiritual love warrior and you know it because it’s written on your mirror.

 

But somehow, being around your family has a way of reverting you back to the reactive, unconscious pain body you were before you started studying The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, for the fiftieth time.  

 

So what is it about visiting our parents, brothers, sisters, even grandparents, aunts and uncles that turn us from a content, self-aware adult into a fragile, defensive little child again and what can we do about it?

 

Here are 4 things that worked for me and allow me to now truly enjoy visiting family for the holidays without fear, dread or energetic drain.

 

1. Recognize that there’s a science behind why we revert back to old habits and patterns when we’re around family again.

 

Social scientists call it “family systems theory,” a concept describing the family as a cohesive, intensely connected emotional unit with interlocking behavioral patterns where each member functions as part of a whole system, playing specific roles and following established rules, spoken or unspoken. Each member’s role determines their behavior, interactions and responses to other members and as a result, impacts the other members in predictable ways.

 

According to Dr. Murray Bowen, the psychiatrist who originated family systems theory, it’s presumed that this interdependent system developed to promote the cohesiveness and cooperation required to protect, shelter and provide for the family and its members. In other words, it’s instinctually a matter of survival.

 

2. Realize that if you’re subconsciously reverting back into a role, so too is everyone else.

 

Like you, your brother may have outgrown his role as he’s lived his adult life away from the family unit, learning, evolving and growing, making friends and creating new interlocking connections with others. You may think he hasn’t changed because of the old behavior surfacing, but he may think the same about you.

 

Understanding the powerful gravity of the family system dynamics to pull each of its members back into the old familiar ways can help to bring more empathy and compassion to each member as they too may be struggling to hold on to their new, healthier ways of living and being.

 

3. Develop a curiosity to knowing each of your family members in a new way, outside the family dynamic.

 

My sister once visited me in my studio apartment in California in my early twenties. I had just moved into someone’s converted garage and had my very own backyard for the first time in my life. But it was just a patch of dirt and weeds and I didn’t know how to turn it into a beautiful garden. My sister, with a notorious green thumb and endless creativity, flew out from Connecticut to help me turn my dirt yard into a lush garden.

 

It was a special sisterly bonding trip for both of us as it was the first time we’d spend quality solo time together, visiting without other family members and as full-fledged independent adults.

 

The problem was that I’d always been jealous of her. I deeply love her, but being with her reminded me of how inadequate I was. Growing up, she was the popular one in school, the MVP on all the sports teams, extroverted, outgoing, confident and beautiful, with tons of friends. I was the shy, quiet, reserved sister who felt awkwardly uncomfortable around people. I wanted to be more like her but no matter how hard I tried over the years, it just wasn’t enough. My dad once said, “why can’t you be more like your sister?” and that phrase haunted me throughout my school years with others inadvertently saying it to me as well.

 

“Because I’m me,” I’d say, partly defiantly, but mostly feeling that being me wasn’t good enough.

 

By my twenties, I’d done what seemed like a lifetime’s worth of therapy to resolve my childhood issues and I was somewhat content with who I was, no longer envious… so I thought.

 

Her visit triggered my old role of insecure little sister and I fell into the old hurt feelings again. She would say something with the best of intentions and I’d take it to mean that she was saying I’m not good enough or that she’s better than me.

 

For example, the morning before she arrived, I had walked around my yard meticulously gathering fall colored leaves of yellow, red and orange, placing them in a round glass fishbowl of water. It was to be a centerpiece for my metal patio table for two, a unique homemade decoration that I proudly made. To me, it was something special I made for us, to show my creativity and resourcefulness since I didn’t have much money back then to buy anything, and I thought it would be nice to have a natural centerpiece to put outside where we could sit and eat lunch in between gardening. She’d always been the artistic, creative one and I wanted to show her that I could be creative too.

 

After we’d been tilling dirt for a while and stopped to take a break, I went into the kitchen to get some water for us and came out to find her dumping out the fishbowl, my beautiful concoction of fall colored leaves and water being tossed out onto the waste pile of uprooted weeds and dirt. She saw me and said, “This is ugly. I’ll get something better for you.”

 

I immediately turned into that wounded, insecure 13 year old who lived under my sister’s shadow. All the self-improvement, self-love work I’d done on myself… tossed out like the contents of the fishbowl. I felt like she was dumping ME onto the waste pile, like she was telling me I was ugly and not good enough and I should just toss myself into the dirt.

 

Of course, she wasn’t saying any of that. She had no idea what that centerpiece meant to me. We hadn’t talked about it and she didn’t know I made it or where it came from. To her, it was just an object, probably something the landlord put out. To me, it was a symbol of ME. Her action was a symbol of everything I’d felt growing up and our relationship and roles we’d played together. But the truth is it was just a glass bowl with leaves and water. It was me who infused the object with so much meaning and gravity.

 

She didn’t mean anything by it. She was helping her little sister. She wanted me to have nice things and she would see to it that the ugly things were taken care of. I didn’t know that back then, even though rationally I kept telling myself that so I’d feel better, but the wound of the 13 year old was too raw to see any other perspective except from the eyes of the inadequate little sister.

 

Had I known then what I know now, I would’ve stepped outside that moment. I wouldn’t have spent the rest of her visit stewing silently over my hurt feelings, sensitive to every word that came out of her mouth. I would’ve seen it for what it was and made a different choice. I would’ve chose to see my sister as an individual human being with her own life, outside her role of popular bigger sister, and mine of unworthy little sister. I would’ve enjoyed bonding moments with her, untainted by past hurts. I would’ve talked openly about what the fishbowl represented to me, and we could’ve communicated in a deep authentic, honest way.

 

I would’ve asked her questions about her life with her husband and kids, and listened to her with new ears as if I hadn’t known her my entire life, as if she were a new best friend that I was getting to know. The sister who came to visit me was a new person, having experienced her own adulting, learning and growing outside our old family dynamics, but I kept seeing her as the old person, the sister who was better than me… and I kept seeing myself within the past family dynamics, the girl who could never be as good as her bigger sister. Being stuck in those old roles heavily colored our visit together, blocking us from fully experiencing each other in the present moment and repeating old patterns that were outworn and outdated, patterns that neither of us wanted to repeat and no longer served us in our new lives.

 

It was an awakening lesson for me, though a painful one, and I wrote her a letter the night she left, apologizing for not seeing her for who she was then but for bringing our past selves into the present and replaying old dynamics like a broken record. We have an incredibly strong relationship today. We always did, it was just covered in the muck of hurt, unresolved feelings and old family systems that we’ve now broken free from. 

 

4. Reaffirm your new and improved self within the old family system by being mindful of old emotional triggers that easily snap you back into past behaviors.

 

When you’re able to slow down the triggering process by adding mindful awareness to the mix, you can choose to behave in a different way than the old established role and in lifting yourself out of the system’s pull, you help lift other family members out too. In doing so, you start to create a new family system that can be more enjoyable for everyone.

 

Here’s a broad example. Let’s say in your family system dynamic your dad drinks too much and says inappropriate things (playing his role as the obnoxious alcoholic), your mom cries and makes excuses for him (playing her role as the codependent victim), your brother brushes it all off by cracking jokes and minimizing things (playing his role as the avoider), your sister angrily confronts everyone (playing her role as the fixer) and you try to help everyone see everyone else’s point of view (playing your role as the peacekeeper).

 

If this is how each of your family gatherings have gone, the next time it happens, do something different. Don’t bring your old peacekeeping self into it. What would you do if this was not your family? What if you were the token single friend visiting someone else’s family for the holiday and this happened?

 

Sit back and observe the various roles from an outsider’s perspective. What if you aren’t the peacekeeper in this situation? What if there is no peacekeeper? What if you just let them go at it? What if, in the middle of their arguing in the kitchen, you decided NOT to be the calm, rational peacekeeping one and instead, jumped up and down flailing your arms around like a crazy banshee and then left the room? That’s a radical example (though you should try it, it’s fun!), but there are a myriad of choices you could make in that moment. Any of them would disrupt the old habitual system. It’s like introducing a new update to old software. Sometimes the changes are subtle, sometimes it’s like a whole new program.

 

Reacting in a different way will likely be difficult with all the old emotions swirling back into you but if you could take a step back, outside the emotional density for a moment, you can begin to make stronger, more independent choices, removed from the control of your past habitual reactions, your past role.

 

Here’s a technique that shows you exactly how to do this step by step.

 

You can do this technique for any situation or anytime you don’t want to get emotionally sucked in when triggered.

 

Establishing a new role within the old family dynamics takes time. But know that even though it might appear that everyone wants to remain stuck in it, they too are unconsciously dispositioned to it, led by the interlocking pieces of each member’s role within the family unit. Family systems theory is about predictability. We predictably interact and react in familiar ways that feed off each other, triggering other family members to interact and react in their old familiar way. How many times have you said, “I don’t want to visit the family this year, it’s the same drama year after year, they don’t change!”

 

If you start behaving in a different way, disrupting the system, it can no longer function in the way it has been. While it may appear that they don’t change, without your old role being played out, the system begins to dismantle.

 

All the members will begin to shift, consciously or not, developing a new family system. In time, what once triggered you and the rest of the family no longer carries the emotional charge it once did. Family gatherings can be fun, light and carefree, celebrated in the present moment and unburdened by past energy.

 

Permission to Begin Again

My friend just turned 50. She’s a psychologist and hates her job. I ask why she continues doing it and she tells me she’s invested too much time, energy and money into it to quit. This is the exact same reason she told me 20+ years ago when she became a psychologist and realized she didn’t like it. Back then, it was the 10 years of schooling, training and student loans she’d accumulated. Now, there’s 20 more years of work-life experience, resentment and misery added on to her justification for staying in a profession she hates.

 

This morning I woke up and discovered someone had slipped a pair of cranky pants on me while I slept.

 

We have puppies again. And before I can take care of me, I have to take care of the crying puppies. That means poop duty, feedings and a little morning TLC before I get to sit down and enjoy the holiness of that first sip of coffee in the quiet sanctity of morning.

 

Mornings are sacred to me. I like quiet, reflection and stillness. I like to wake up, get a cup of coffee, sit outside with my journal and watch the sun peek over the mountain. I like to sip slowly, write whatever my hand feels inspired to write, and reflect on the beauty of the open blue sky, chirping birds and the misty haze that sometimes layers the mountains around me.

But when you have nine four-week-old puppies, you wake up to a pen full of pee and poop that’s been rolled in, stomped on and spread around, thanks to 7 hours of neglect because you were sleeping. The puppies are hungry and they demand. food. now. They don’t care about your coffee, your quiet or holy mornings. They want their holy food.

 

For the last 4 weeks, I didn’t mind puppy duty in the mornings. But this morning, those cranky pants were buttoned on tight.

 

So when my man called as I was wrangling the furballs to their feeding stations and hurrying to roll up all the torn, dirty newspapers and lay out clean wee pads and papers while they’re preoccupied with eating instead of trying to chew every wee pad I put down, I snapped at him.

 

We have an agreement to never talk to each other in a disrespectful way. That includes snapping at one another, even when we’re frustrated, cranky or hangry. While some couples think this is normal, we’ve agreed that it’s not our normal and no matter how frustrated we might be in any given situation, it’s not okay to treat the one you love that way. So we just don’t do it.

 

Except, I did. And then I apologized.

 

And after the pups were back in the clean pen with happy rounded bellies, I gave myself permission to begin again.

 

I went back to sleep.

Thirty minutes later, I woke up, refreshed and renewed, no cranky pants in sight. It was as if waking up for the first time, except, now I could enjoy my morning the way I like… in peace and quiet. Without puppy poop.

 

Whether it’s a profession you hate or a morning ritual gone awry, give yourself permission to begin again.

 

I could’ve spent all day analyzing why I woke up cranky Tree instead of the usual happy Tree. I could’ve made a bunch of excuses and justifications as to why I was cranky-pants.  Or I could just go back to sleep and begin again.

 

My friend could spend her life analyzing why she became a psychologist or why she hates it so much, and she could make a bunch of justifications as to why she needs to stay. Or she could just begin again and do something she enjoys.

 

It may not be as simple as going back to sleep, but it all starts with giving yourself PERMISSION to begin again… to be open to letting go of reasons, excuses and logic, especially if they’re keeping you in misery… to allow yourself to consider something new, something exciting, something that makes your heart sing rather than mute it.

 

Why?

 

Because you’re worth it.

 

Because life is worth it.

 

Because it’s no fun being stuck doing something you don’t want to do, being someone you don’t want to be and living a life you don’t want to live.

 

I’m not talking solely about jobs here, I’m talking about anything and everything in your life that’s causing you misery. Maybe it’s a relationship. Maybe it’s the way you yell at your kids. Maybe it’s how you lose yourself in your emotions. Maybe it’s a belief system that no longer serves you. Maybe it’s your lack of trust in God. Maybe it’s your lack of trust in yourself.

 

Whatever it is, begin again.

 

Undo years of habit and conditioning by simply giving yourself permission to be, do or have something different.

 

Often, we don’t make changes because we think it has to be big and dramatic, like burning-bush-trumpets-blaring-in-the-heavens kind of big. But it doesn’t have to be a huge, drastic change.

 

When I was in Bear Valley Search & Rescue, I learned that a hiker who veered off course by a mere one degree could end up miles away from their target at the end of the day, and that’s how many hikers get lost. One degree difference doesn’t seem like much, hardly noticeable when you’re putting one foot in front of the other.

 

But over time, the difference could be a matter of life or death.

 

The same is true for making changes in your life. Small steps toward your target, repeated and made consistently over time, is the difference between living on purpose or living by default.

 

Like my friend, one day you turn 50 and wonder how you wandered so far from your joy.

 

Give yourself permission, today, right now, to begin again.

 

Take a small, one degree step toward your bold, beautiful and joyous life.

 

Whatever it is…

 

Begin again.

 

You have permission.

 

How to Stop Taking On Other People’s Energy (AKA Mood Bubbles)

Photo Credit: Alejandro Alvarez

 

Last week, I was a featured guest mentor at The Changemakers Circle where all the attendees got to ask me questions, round robin style. The topic was about finding balance in our lives, especially within our emotions. It was an honor to mentor this group of ambitious seekers who each came prepared with their most burning questions, seeking answers to help them move through their current struggles. After the interview, they posed one last question to me as a group: How can we support you with your important work in the world?

 

My answer?

 

Since we are all one and interconnected, the best way to support me (or anyone) is to support yourself. Get out there and do YOUR important work in this world. This is a vibratory, energetic Universe and by transforming your own energy, you transform others.

 

After the interview, I thought more about my answer and it reminded me of the gray mass I talk about in my Emotional Resilience course. I sometimes refer to it as “mood bubbles” but they’re really swirling energetic fields created mostly by emotions. Remember, emotions are simply energy in motion.

 

Here’s an example of the mood bubble: Have you ever been in a great mood, maybe you took some time in the morning to meditate or journal and you were feeling amazing, and then someone walks into the room and suddenly you’re cranky and annoyed for no apparent reason? That’s because their mood bubble came into the room with them and merged into yours, mucking yours all up!

 

We each have an energetic field around us, similar to an aura but on a lesser, temporary scale. This energetic field consists of your emotional state in the moment and fluctuates constantly depending on what you’re thinking and feeling.

 

Ever pass a stranger on the street and know immediately that they’re hurting deep down inside, even if they’re smiling? It’s because you sense their energetic field, which is much more truthful  than the story they’re projecting outwardly with their put-together clothes, manicured nails and fake smiles.

 

If you don’t have a strong inner foundation and anchor into your energetic field, you could easily take on that person’s sadness by inadvertently allowing their field to blend in with yours, or worse, taking on their energy completely while losing yours.

 

Here’s a silly little video I made with Stick Girl to show you how this happens. The video lasts 7 seconds, and in real life, this happens in less than 7 seconds too. (note: there’s no audio)

 

 

Can you relate?

 

We do this all day every day with everyone we come into contact with. It’s no wonder you’re completely exhausted and worn out at the end of the day! You’ve been allowing other people’s energy to merge with and subsequently drain yours. Even if the person is not blatantly yelling at you, like stick man in the video, they could just be carrying around a field of negativity and heaviness.

 

I get hundreds of emails from readers telling me they take things too personally, they can’t handle criticism, they wish they weren’t affected by others so much and they wonder why they get mad, sad or upset so easily.

 

The reason is because they’re LETTING other people’s energetic fields take over their own.

 

So the question is HOW do we not let other people’s energetic fields take over ours?

 

HOW do we stand strong and firm in our own powerful energetic field (it really is powerful!) so that other people can’t overtake us?

 

Because it’s my birthday today, I decided to give myself the gift of giving. For the first time ever, I’m sharing with you an entire lesson from my course, Emotional Resilience. The lesson is called, “The Work: The Beginning of Your Emotional Freedom,” and it’s in the first module of a three module course.

 

This is only the beginning, dear sensitive one. There’s much more work for us to do but before you can do YOUR important work in this world, you must first learn how to master your emotions so that YOUR powerful energetic field becomes the dominant one in any situation.

 

Can you imagine if, in that 7 second video above, YOUR energetic field was the stronger one? YOU would transmute angry stick man’s energy into one of peace and calm. Imagine the kind of world we’d live in – YOU would live in – if you walked around emitting your powerful, loving and joyful energy toward others, and they absorbed YOUR positive energy rather than you absorbing theirs.

 

This lesson is only one small but powerful change toward creating that world. And it starts with YOU.

 

I’m giving you access to this video for free as a birthday gift to myself, but would you please promise me something in return? Would you please TAKE ACTION by doing the steps outlined in the video? I don’t want you to just watch it and then forget about it. Information is great but to experience true transformation, we have to put in the time, effort and energy. That’s why the video is called, “The Work.” And I’d love to hear how it works for you. Take your time to watch the video, practice the steps and then come back to the comments below and share your insights, aha moments and anything else you want to share!

 

If you want to download the worksheet mentioned in the video lesson, click here. No sign-up needed!

 

Here’s the video and a time-stamped breakdown below. Enjoy!

 

 

:37 “My boyfriend says something that he doesn’t think is insensitive, but it really hurts my feelings and I can’t stop thinking about it for days.”
1:12 Recognizing the four common reactions and coping strategies – which one do you do?
3:13 The ONE thing you do that causes your downward mental & emotional spiral – stop doing this one thing and you’ll stop suffering (don’t worry, we’ll show you HOW later in the video)
3:47 Do you ever feel like you can’t stop obsessing over something someone said to you, replaying it in your mind over and over? Ever been happy and carefree one moment then you walk into a room and suddenly you feel tired or cranky for no apparent reason? Have sudden, unexplainable mood swings? Here’s why.
5:09 A simple way to get out of dense, negative energetic vibrations (whether they belong to you or others)
10:35 How most people relate to their emotions – does this look like you? (hint: if you slam things or yell at others then feel guilty later, this is probably you)
11:40 Want massive, lasting change? Do this.
13:04 A real-life visual step-by-step example of exactly what to do when you start to lose yourself in any overpowering emotion such as anger, anxiety, stress and  jealousy, triggered by someone else. Going from hurt to reclaiming your power: A visual example of how the process works
18:27 Instead of yelling “I’m so angry” when you’re angry, yell this instead to immediately dissipate the anger (and maybe even laugh)
19:17 The one thing you should do as soon as you are triggered into an overpowering emotion

If a soul cries and no one’s there to hear it, does it still hurt?

Photo credit: Kento Iemoto

“Your body can’t get pregnant,” my doctor said matter-of-factly last year, as if she was telling me I had a piece of lint on my shirt.

 

“Oh,” I said. “Ok,” as if picking the lint off and flicking it to the floor.  

 

I mirrored her matter-of-factness on the outside even though somewhere deep inside me, I was screaming. But the matter-of-fact Tree didn’t want to let screaming Tree out, so she pushed her down, shoved her back into the dark corner where no one, including myself, could see or hear her.

 

If a soul cries and no one’s there to hear it, does it still hurt?

 

You betcha!

 

When we push our emotions down, shove them aside, rationalize them away, dismiss, minimize or otherwise ignore them, we can bet they’re going to express themselves in some bigger way, shape or form eventually. Maybe not today, maybe not next month, but one day.

 

Screaming Tree took 9 months to get my attention again… just about enough time to have a baby.

 

Or not, in my case.

 

I wrote about taking time off to face screaming Tree in this post, What Dims Your Light?, so if you want to get the backstory, read that post first.

 

Since my time off, I’ve experienced some major shifts in my thinking, being and knowing. I feel like I was shedding my skin (hence, the skin problems), only it wasn’t just my physical skin, it was also my human skin, my human persona.

 

In other words, I grew out of Tree. Tree – the human personality, the author, entrepreneur, sister, daughter, girlfriend, coach, woman, mentor, goofball, dog lover, etc, and all the stories that come along with her.

 

The truth is we are eternal beings first and foremost. We are souls with a physical body, NOT the other way around.

 

While I had a deep spiritual practice prior to my awakening and knew this, I hadn’t been LIVING it. Most of my energy was taken up by human-based thoughts that revolved around me, my loved ones, our lives and the people I serve. I communed with God and meditated and did self-care practices, but then I went on with the rest of my day stuck in the human world of problems, challenges, achievements, desires and thoughts.

 

I was living more like a human with a soul rather than a soul with a human persona.

 

As part of my healing process, I had weekly sessions with a Cosmoenergy healer. During one of our sessions, I had a vision of a young girl, draped in black, standing alone on a dirt path. She was holding a bunch of red roses, filled with shame and sorrow. People were lined up toward her and when they got to her, they would hand her a red rose then walk away and the next person would do the same.

 

Before I continue, let me just say that I’ve never been a rose person. I don’t merely dislike them, in the way I don’t like potatoes. If I’m at a buffet and saw mashed potatoes, I won’t be repulsed and complain that they offer potatoes, I just won’t put them on my plate. I won’t even give it a second thought. But with roses, I have an unexplained repulsion to them. Can’t stand them. In my last home, I found out that aphids had taken over the rose bush that came with the house and I was secretly happy, wishing they’d kill off the bush for us so I wouldn’t have to look out the kitchen window and see the roses every day. Strange, I know, but roses have always been a thing with me, especially red ones. I never understood it until that healing session.

 

In the vision, I inherently knew the young girl to be me, even though we didn’t look the same and she was a different person, with a different life in a different time and place. I understood that this was some kind of a mourning ritual. The people lined up were paying their respects to her by offering a rose and her job was to quietly and graciously accept their offering with appreciation and thanks.

 

Except… she hated roses. And she was neither appreciative nor thankful. In fact, she didn’t want anything to do with it. She didn’t want to be there. She didn’t want to take the roses. She didn’t want to see the people. She didn’t want to mourn in the way they were making her mourn. She wasn’t allowed to mourn the way her soul so desperately yearned for and needed, that would’ve been against the rules. And she was clearly not allowed to break any more rules, she’d been enough trouble.

 

The more people handed her roses, the angrier she became. Finally, she couldn’t take the pretense anymore and in an uncharacteristic act of freedom, she did externally what she felt internally and ripped all the roses to pieces, red rose petals falling to the ground, bits and chunks of green leaves and stems scattering onto her long black dress before dropping onto the dirt.

 

The people were shocked and offended. But she didn’t care. She had had enough.

 

In this same vision, there was a boy. He was neither in line with the people nor beside her. He was off to the side, watching it all unfold. It’s the same boy I’ve known in spirit for many years. I used to think this boy was my unborn son, that it was the spirit of my future son coming to visit me before he was born. But now I understand that this boy WAS my son and he’d already been born. Except, not to me, Tree, in this lifetime, but to the young girl in the vision.

 

Me from a past life.

 

If you’re rolling your eyes because you don’t believe in past lives, I totally get it. I was once a skeptic about that too. But now I accept there are things in this Universe that we’ve only barely begun to know.

 

After the Cosmoenergy session ended, the healer and I opened our eyes, recentered ourselves back into the room and talked about what we each experienced. In case you’ve never had a Cosmoenergy session, you basically sit there for 45 minutes with your eyes closed while the healer’s sitting across from you doing whatever she’s doing, and neither of you are talking. When time’s up, then you talk.

 

As we compared notes, we realized that both of us had experienced similar visions. She told me her vision was that I was a young child of God in a past life, which she understood to be a nun, in the 1700s and had gotten pregnant. I was deeply ashamed at myself and angry at God for allowing this to happen. I felt betrayed and alone, shunned by the convent and everyone around me. The baby, a boy, was taken away from me, despite my pleadings, and in a powerful moment of utter desperation and pain, I vowed that I would never have kids again.

 

When we bridged our two visions together, it made complete sense. The people who had shunned me were offering me their condolences with the red rose and I was supposed to accept their offering even though they were not accepting of me. They were fake, their offering was inauthentic and I wanted no part of it.  They had ripped my baby away from me, in the name of God and in the name of doing what’s best for me, and now they wanted to give me a rose, as if that made up for my loss. An eye for an eye. A rose for a baby. Sorry we took your baby away, here, have a rose. There, feel better?

 

No wonder the young girl ripped the roses to shreds.

 

No wonder I had a repulsion to roses.

 

Had. Past tense. No wonder I HAD a repulsion to roses.

 

After that session, I allowed myself to fully mourn for not being able to have a baby in this lifetime. I took it easy on myself and thanked my body for everything else it does for me. I understood that there are sacred soul contracts and soul lessons to be learned, beyond my physical comprehension and limited awareness. I realized there are infinite layers and multidimensional levels of learning and growing and it’s not just about my one experience in this lifetime.

 

I envisioned the young girl, the broken child of God in the 1700s, and I invited her to use my body, my emotions, my life, to mourn and express everything she was not allowed to express when she was alive in her form. I invited her to heal through me.

 

I practiced the Ho’oponopono technique that I teach in my self-love course, a powerful forgiveness practice that I believe if done regularly could have incredibly transformational and transcendent results.

 

I bought a miniature peach rose plant (baby steps), set it on my nightstand and said goodnight to it before I went to sleep every night and good morning every time I woke up. My boyfriend asked me what was up with the plant and I told him I needed to make peace with roses. Like most of my spiritual whims, he didn’t exactly understand but he took me shopping a week later and we picked out beautiful rose bushes to plant in our garden. We spent a weekend getting on our knees, digging holes and carefully planting each rose bush. It took me another week to work my way up to get a red rose bush.

 

Now I love looking into our garden of colorful, blooming roses, especially the red ones.

I’ve learned that we come into this life with a set of pre-planned lessons, a blueprint if you will of potential opportunities to learn and grow and heal. Each soul carries experiences of its past lives into its new lives, in the same way that we carry our experiences from when we were 12 years old with us as we age and move through this particular life. I’ve always known this from an intellectual level but it’s only just beginning to sink in deeper and experientially.  

 

If there is unfinished business from a past life, it will carry over into the next. You may have unexplained, irrational phobias or repulsions or random ordinary things that trigger feelings in you, like the roses did for me. You don’t need to know WHY you have them, I don’t think it’s necessary to do a past-life regression to come to the source of it. But I think it’s important to face it and move toward healing or neutralizing it.

 

Earlier, I asked: If a soul cries and no one’s there to hear it, does it still hurt?

 

I invite you to listen to your soul’s cries.

 

You might be thinking, “All I ever do is cry! Cry, cry, cry! I’m tired of crying! Now I have to listen to my soul’s cries? No way!”

 

If this resonates with you, then maybe your soul is crying out for some laughter, lightheartedness, playfulness, a little bit of silliness in all the seriousness?

 

Maybe it’s not crying because it needs to release pain, maybe it’s crying because it needs to express joy?

 

Go deeper.

 

What does your soul need?

 

Most times, it just needs acknowledgment.

 

Sometimes, it needs your permission to be set free from the dark corners and invited to come out into the light.

 

Always, it needs love, forgiveness, kindness.

 

It needs to be witnessed.

 

What does your soul cry for?

The Deepening of Surrender

Last week, I wrote about the call to surrender.

This week, I was given an opportunity to dive deeper into surrender when my dog, Bailey, became critically ill. (Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending)

When we’re faced with the potential loss of a loved one, we become acutely aware of the fact that we truly have no control. We maneuver around our daily lives pretending to be in control but when it comes to death, we can do everything in our power to help, but in the end, it’s not up to us, no matter how desperately we want things to go our way.

How do you possibly surrender to that?

Last Friday when we came home, Bailey didn’t run to greet us like she usually does. She didn’t give us slobbery kisses, or circle around our legs, or knock us down with her excited 120 pound body. She remained in her bed as our other 3 dogs ran to us and did all the above. When we called her, she barely had enough energy to lift her head.  

We knew something was wrong but decided to wait until morning to see if it persisted. Maybe she just has a tummy ache, we thought. We coaxed her into the house where she crawled under our bed and remained the rest of the night.

On Saturday morning, she wouldn’t get up and we knew something was terribly wrong. We took her to the vet who suspected Pyometra, an infection in the uterus that’s life threatening if not treated immediately and aggressively. Our vet gave us the strongest antibiotic they have and told us to monitor her closely. It was a long holiday weekend and she warned us that if she got worse over the weekend, we should get her to the Emergency Room right away.

On Monday morning, we woke up to find her under the bed breathing heavily and panting as if she’d just run a mile, except she hadn’t. In fact, she hadn’t moved much in 2 days except for the short bursts when we forced her to go outside and walk in the grass in our feeble attempts to deny reality. We thought if we could just get her up and moving, she’d feel better.

But the reality was that Bailey was not well enough to move around. She was dying.

We scooped her into our car and rushed her to the ER. She had a fever and her white blood cell count was extremely high. They told us they’d need to keep her overnight, start her on a second antibiotic through IV and push fluids and pain meds into her right away.

I wished they would’ve let me sleep in the kennel with her. I would’ve curled up behind her, spooning her, and stroked the soft fur behind her ear all night long. She loves that.  

But instead, we kissed her good bye knowing that this might be the last time we saw her alive. I told her what a beautiful soul she was and that we’re blessed to have had nearly 2 years with her and that we hope for many more.

In many ways, we feel like those were stolen years.

You see, Bailey is our miracle dog. She was dead when she came out of her mama around Thanksgiving 2016.

She was #9 from a 10 puppy litter. It took her 7 hours to come into this world after the first one and I guess she suffocated inside her mom’s womb. We gave her mouth to mouth and literally breathed life into her. My man tried rubbing her and breathing into her for a few minutes but her wet body remained limp in his hand and he gave up. Too much time had passed, he thought. Then my step-daughter looked up at her dad with tears in her eyes and begged him to try again. This was the first litter she’d ever experienced and she was heartbroken. He breathed a couple more breaths into her and suddenly her tiny body started to wiggle and she started breathing!

(Baby Bailey barely one day old)

From that moment on, it felt like every breath she took was a stolen breath, as if it wasn’t supposed to be. Somehow she was able to escape the Angel of Death that time, but when will he notice and come back for her?

Bailey cheated death again a few weeks later when she ended up with a mysterious infection that landed her at the animal ER the first time.

This weekend was her second time at the ER. And her third time escaping death.  

She’s our miracle dog.  She’s a fighter. And she’s my teacher.

She taught me how to deepen my surrender.

It’s one thing to surrender to life when things are going well or even so-so. It’s another to surrender when a beloved family member’s on the brink of death and the helplessness and pain you feel is insurmountable.  

This is when you’re challenged and faced with a choice to either resist and get angry, or accept and find peace IN THE MIDST of your pain.  

This is your opportunity to deepen your surrender.

Surrendering doesn’t make the pain go away, it lays a comforting blanket of peace over it.

It curls up behind the pain, spooning it and strokes the soft spots in your heart.

Life presents us with plenty of opportunities to surrender, we simply need to first, answer the call, then deepen.

When you use your hardships as divine invitations to deepen your surrender, you become a dancer in life’s song, flowing with it instead of against it. You’re in harmony with life and while you know you don’t have any control, you also know that you have the power to co-create with life.

Surrendering doesn’t mean you sit idly by and let whatever happens happen. Being a co-creator means you do everything you can in your power while you let life do what it does in its power, and you surrender to the outcome.

Even though I surrendered, it didn’t mean I let my dog die under my bed and not take her to the vet. Instead, I did everything I knew to do, taking her to the professionals who were trained to help her, asking for prayers and healing vibes from my sweet compassionate Facebook friends, and continually turning doubts and worries over to the care of God, moment to moment.

Surrendering isn’t a one-time deal and it’s done forever. The depths of surrender are endless. You might surrender and be okay with the outcome in one moment and then the next, someone asks you about your pup and the fear of losing her overtakes you.

Then you surrender again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Each time you make the choice to surrender instead of allowing yourself to get carried away in worrisome thoughts, you strengthen your surrender muscles and it becomes easier and easier and you sink deeper and deeper into surrender.

Each time I started thinking about what would happen if Bailey dies, how awful she must be feeling, how difficult it would be for her brother and mom who held vigil near the spot under my bed where they last saw her before we whisked her away to the ER, how life would be without her, how much pain she was in, what was she thinking all alone in the ER, does she understand what’s going on, etc…. I would remind myself that there’s ALWAYS a bigger picture, there’s ALWAYS a higher plan and reason for ALL things and that it’s my job to surrender to the forces that orchestrate the symphony of the bigger purpose. It’s not my job to understand it, it’s my job to surrender to it. This is what it means to surrender. To release the tight grip on my desires and trust that the bigger desires of life are playing out the way they should be, no matter what happens, and to know that I’m a part of that beautiful symphony.

If you’re facing a challenging time in your life right now, answer the call to surrender… and then go deeper. Hardships are only hardships when you refuse to dance with life’s music. When you surrender to the song, you’ll discover that you ARE the song. Embrace your hardships as opportunities to deepen into life.

Bailey made it through. She’s back home with us and while she’s still on a lot of meds and healing, she’s happily playing with her furry family and greeting us with slobbery kisses when we come home.

(Click here to see my Facebook post and more photos of Bailey’s journey)

 

 

The Call to Surrender

 

I’m baaack! Miss me?

 
I can’t believe it’s been 6 months since I started my sabbatical! If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that in March, I announced that I needed to take a month off to heal some deep wounds and focus on my health. If you’re new to my list or if you don’t remember (seriously, who even remembers what they had for breakfast yesterday morning!?), you can read about it here
 
Back then, I didn’t anticipate that I’d take 6 months off. I thought it would only be one, maybe two, max.
 
Back then, I didn’t anticipate that my medical condition would still be the same 6 months later. I thought if I healed my inner wounds, the external would heal too.
 
Back then, I didn’t anticipate that I’d ascend to a whole new level of existence, a whole new way of BEING in this world, but not of it. I thought I was just working on some buried emotional pain. 
 
But the truth is…
 
We are not in control of our lives.
 
As the old saying goes, “Man plans and God laughs.”
 
During my six-month inner vision quest, I’ve tumbled deep down the rabbit hole and have emerged humbled, cracked open and surrendered to anything that comes my way – whether I agree with it, understand it, want it… or not. 
 
I always thought I was the captain of my ship. Put your mind on something, go after it, and it’s yours. Time and time again, I’ve proven to myself that I CAN have everything I want. It’s this steadfast belief and take-charge-of-your-own-destiny attitude that’s gotten me where I am today. 
 
Except…. sometimes while we’re busy making plans, life makes its own plans for us. Sometimes we can only follow our own path for so long, and then we start to see that maybe there’s another path. One we hadn’t been ready to see… or commit to, because we were so busy forging our own way, surviving, thriving, going after what we want, whacking all the weeds out of our way, trudging uphill, doing everything we can to make a good life for ourselves and those we love. 
 
I’ve come to know that we can only go so far on our own path, on this level of existence, before we discover that there’s something divinely more, something much, much bigger and deeper than our human self with all its desires, yearnings, problems and successes – and this is the important part – we surrender to it. 
 
To some of you reading this, you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about. And that’s okay. These words are for those of you who are in the midst of a calling to surrender. You know who you are. Somehow all this jibber jabber is resonating with you, isn’t it? There’s something awakening, brewing inside you like a familiar cup of tea. 
 
This post is for you… especially if you’ve been experiencing unexplained depression, anxiety, sorrow, deep anger or disconnection lately.
 
Hmmmmm…. I wonder what that’s about? 
 
Go deeper. Look beyond the surface of things. 
 
There’s a calling in there for you.
 
The consciousness of our planet is shifting.
 
You feel it, don’t you?
 
You might not be able to explain it, or put your finger on it, or understand it. And maybe you’ve been beating yourself up for feeling so “off” lately. 
 
Let me tell you this now… it’s not your fault.
 
It’s your gift. 
 
It’s the shift.
 
It’s happening. 
 
With or without you.
 
Go deeper into yourself (not your human self with its personality and judgments and hurts). I’m talking about YOU, who you really are. Your soul. 
 
Go deeper. 
 
Sit. Be still. Breathe. Witness.
 
I trust you’ll find a new path, one divinely created just for you.
 
In love and light,
 
Tree & Stick Girl
 

How to Care for Your Sensitive Spirit (Guest Post)

This is a guest post contributed by a fellow sensitive soul, Leslie Ralph, who also writes and doodles. Stick Girl especially enjoys playing with her hens with pens characters. Since I’m on break, I invited Leslie to write something for my audience and this beautiful piece is what came out.  Hope you enjoy! More about Leslie – and her free gift to you – at the bottom. 

Photo by Kevin Young

“Oh, this bone structure,” she said.

This strange woman I’d only met moments before in my father’s office pinched my cheeks as she told me with a smile, “I hate you.”

She laughed and looked at me expectantly. Her mouth said, aren’t we having fun? But we weren’t, or at least I wasn’t.

Her eyes revealed pain. The hurting in her was palpable, and I hadn’t yet learned that her pain wasn’t mine or my fault.

I wanted to shrink into the folds of my new sunflower dress bought especially for bring your daughter to work day.

Honestly, I didn’t even want to go that day. It felt like such a big deal to get dressed up and drive all the way downtown to my dad’s skyscraper office. There’s a picture of me that morning holding my baby brother and wearing a mask that says, “I’m so excited!” I wonder if it fooled anyone.

I felt a familiar burn rising in my chest, crawling up my neck to my cheeks, and boiling behind my eyes. I held my breath wishing it would pass. I didn’t have a name then for this weight that lurked behind my heart every day.

I felt guilty, but I wasn’t sure what I’d done.  

I felt like such an imposter. Couldn’t she see just how flawed and ugly I felt?

Despite my best efforts to be normal, the tears wriggled through.

My dad looked embarrassed.

He asked what was wrong. I didn’t know.

He said it was just a joke. I knew that.

“Ooh, she’s so sensitive,” she said turning to my father as if I wasn’t standing right there.

I don’t remember much more about what happened that day except that my dad took me to the mall and bought me an electric blue Gap t-shirt to make me feel better. I have a lot of shirts like that from him.

The shame of “doing it again” that day still hurts, 24 years later. I didn’t know what he expected from me, but I knew it couldn’t have been that.

She’s so sensitive.

I suppose it’s an apt description. I do experience all the feels at turbo level 10.

Yeah, that was me crying at the library story hour. Me again crying at the kids’ taekwondo lessons. Yup, there I am crying at the park, watching the soup commercial, thinking about my childhood, listening to the marching band warm up, telling my husband I love him, thinking of the state of the world.

Sensitive. It’s true, but somehow not enough.

To me, being highly sensitive means having a rich inner experience.

We have hearts as deep as the ocean and powerful as rockets. We experience our feelings, dreams, thoughts, and connections deeply.

It’s just that we don’t always know how to care for our sensitive spirit.

I’ve been called a lot of other things besides too sensitive, like touchy, timid, thin-skinned, hyper, high-strung, snobby, crazy, and the ever-popular too quiet.

For as long as I can remember, people found it perfectly acceptable to tell me I’m not a great conversationalist or not a team player. They always asked why I’m so quiet, and on the heels of telling me they don’t really know me, they laughed about “me and my ideas.”

And for as long as I can remember, I’d apologize.

I apologized for being something other than what they expected. I apologized when I sensed they were hurting. I apologized for my feelings being so large. I apologized for apologizing.

Along the way, I concluded that who I am is wrong. (Yeah, that’s me over there disappointing everyone again.)

I was a misfit and desperately longed to figure out how everyone else navigates this world that was so big and confusing.

No one else ever talked about the things I thought about. No one else ever cried in school. The gossip and crushes and small talk simply did not compute.

My heart was so far out there on my sleeve, you could practically snatch it out of my hands, and I wanted to stow my big, weird, raw emotions out of sight in a small, tidy box.

It breaks my heart to say it today, but I wanted to feel less and be ordinary.

The thing is, we’re not here to be ordinary. We’re here to know what it means to live on this magical, bewildering planet we call home.

We’re not here to be small and fine and like everyone else but rather to witness the majesty and misery of loving, grieving, fearing, wondering, aching, living, and dying.

We’re here to be moved. To laugh and cry and say, “Hey I see you, you fill me with awe. Hey, I see you, I feel that you’re hurting.”

What else is all this here for if not that?

As sensitive spirits, we are pioneers. We hold the keys to understanding the human condition. We bring love and light and color to the world.

Sensitive souls are the artists, philosophers, and healers. Even if our wisdom never leaves the pages of our journals, our love is so big, it can change the world.

But…with great power comes great responsibility.

Because we are special, we have to understand that not everyone gets it.

Many of us were taught to underthink, underfeel, and underexperience. (It’s the spiritual equivalent of sucking in your stomach.)

And we might not have learned how to properly care for a sensitive soul like ours.

Our inner experience is in a constant state of flux, and it requires a lot of energy to feel and process it. Sometimes we get overwhelmed with it all and hibernate, or we let it all hang out (all over innocent bystanders), and sometimes we take on the world and wind up feeling burned out and resentful.

A sensitive spirit needs to be seen, heard, and honored, not put away or overextended.

For years, I tried to save everyone. I tried to heal our rescued cat by playing her music, I counseled kids on the playground, I became my mother’s confidante, and as a therapist, I carried my client’s stories around in my heart as if they were my own. It all became too much.

For years, I also tried to make myself small and indistinguishable from everyone else. I literally starved myself trying to become invisible. In the end, I became most unrecognizable to myself. I felt sad and sick, as if my insides were dying trying to keep all this under wraps.

The most important thing to understand about your sensitive soul is that responding and caring for it is an investment of energy.

Whether you respect and nurture it, bottle it up and lock it away, or let it run wild, absorbing everyone else’s vibes, you are investing energy.

Some investments will fill your heart and spirit in the end, and some will bleed you dry.

Knowing the difference between the two is a matter of having the honesty with yourself to tell it like it is. I’m drained. I’m triggered. I’m resentful. I’m overjoyed. I’m overwhelmed. I’m isolating.

And the compassion with yourself to respond to whatever it is without judgment, only love.

It’s this combination of honesty and compassion that we learn to harness our superpowers. This is how we learn when we need a hug or a day alone, a good cry or a good laugh.

Compassionate honesty with ourselves is how we stand between the gap of what we see and what we know in our bones could be, see a hurting world and send out our love, and protect our own energy in the process.

I don’t know, maybe I am too sensitive, but I also know this: 

I’m gentle and deep. I’m an old soul who’s young at heart. I am love and light and life embodied.

Just like you.

Getting quiet is simply a part of finding solid ground and coming home to ourselves.

And sensitivity is a natural part of being fully present and learning what it means to live in this human body. Inside and out, here and whole.

ABOUT LESLIE RALPH

Leslie is a psychologist, writer, and artist who hopes to leave the world a little brighter than she found it. Her people are creative spirits, soul-searchers, and big-hearted dreamers that crave love and peace, inside and out.

Download her free ritual for receiving for inviting in more love, peace, and healing so you can remember your true gifts and do real, good work for this world.  

Your Questions Answered about Depression

I polled my audience asking what they most want to know about depression and the top four questions were:

  1. Why am I depressed?
  2. How can I help myself through this depression?
  3. Is there something deeply wrong with me that I can’t be happy?
  4. As an empath, how can I stop taking on other people’s energy/emotions?

Dear readers, as promised, I answered your questions in this special video below. Please keep in mind I’m not a medical professional and the insights and advice given here are strictly from my own personal experience, having struggled with major depression myself in my late teens/early twenties and coming out on the other side where joy, light, love and playfulness exist in abundance. 

And also, please be kind, this is my first video rant!  🙂 

 

What’s Covered In This Video:

  • “How can I help myself through this depression?” (00:43)
    • Tree’s story of being diagnosed with manic depression
    • To take medication or not to take meds? 
    • How Tree got better
    • Don’t underestimate the power of nutrition as a major factor in depression
  • “Is there something deeply wrong with me that I can’t be happy?” (09:53)
  • “As an empath, how can I stop taking on other people’s energy/emotions?” and “Why am I depressed?” (10:43)
    • Is it your fault?
    • The one thing I wish I knew when I was suicidally depressed (the answer to why empaths are prone to depression)
  • How to not absorb other people’s energy (15:07)
    • What are emotions, really? (a visual example)
    • Trauma & depression are stored in your body
    • You are a vessel through which energy (emotion) flows
    • The dissonance of inherently knowing the beauty of life but seeing the ugliness
    • Why everything inside you is screaming that something’s wrong
    • Putting on a smile as a highly functional depressed person

If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, here are some helpful resources:

Dear Mom, I Want to Kill Myself  A personal blog post about my darkest moments, on OC87 Recovery Diaries, a non-profit mental health organization.

How to Meditate A personal blog post about how I used meditation instead of medication to rise out of depression (note that I am NOT against medication, it just wasn’t for me. But for many, medication truly helps lift the fog of depression)

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Offers 24/7 confidential support and resources if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide. For hearing and speech impaired with TTY equipment: 1.800.799.4TTY (779-4889)

Project Hope and Beyond  A free, supportive online community for persons with unrelenting depression and anxiety, as well as their families and friends who want to better understand them. Its purpose is to offer support and hope to people whose conditions are lasting or difficult to treat, those who often fall through the cracks of today’s healthcare system.

Erika’s Lighthouse A great site raising awareness for teenage depression. Offers a quiz to find out if you need help for depression as well as a free toolbox for teens suffering from depression.

To Write Love on Her Arms  A non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

Families for Depression Awareness Helps families recognize and cope with depression and bipolar disorder to get people well and prevent suicides.

MoodNetwork Turn your depression into a way to help others by sharing your experiences, thoughts and ideas with the MoodNetwork so they can find better treatment options.

Feel like a failure? Here’s my epic sabbatical fail

 

Ok… so I lied…. I’m not quite offline yet.

If you read my epic commitment to myself last week, you’ll probably think this is one of the automated posts I mentioned.

Nope. It’s not. I’m really here, right now, writing this in real time, moments before I hit “publish” (with a real human finger, not some automated web bot)… and nearly a week after I told myself (and you, dear reader) that I’d go offline for a month.

So what happened?

Have you ever been excited to workout but you couldn’t do it in-the-moment because it was 11:00 at night and you PROMISED yourself that TOMORROW you’d wake up and workout FIRST THING in the morning and it would be SO INCREDIBLE and you’re finally going to get your weight back in control and take your health into your own hands and oh-my-god you’re going to fit into that cute little black dress again!

And then in the morning, you slap the snooze button twenty times and your head’s groggy and you have a bit of an ache in your back and your bed’s so warm and comfy and maybe you’ll start tomorrow. After all, what’s the harm in waiting just one more day? You’ve gone this long without exercise, you can start tomorrow. So you sleep in a little longer and promise yourself you’ll work out twice as hard tomorrow.

But we all know what happens tomorrow, right?

SNOOZE!

Yeeeeaaah, that’s what happened to me too. Except, my promise wasn’t to exercise, it was to focus on radical self-care (which meant staying offline and going deep within).

I did take some time off, but it only lasted 4 days, not a month.

Did I fail to keep my commitment to myself?

Yes.

Am I embarrassed to admit it publicly?

Yes.

Am I taking this opportunity to turn it into a learning lesson for myself and anyone else who cares to learn from it?

Heck yes!

So that’s why I’m here, sharing my failed attempt with you.

Because you know what?

It’s HARD to make changes in your life. Especially radical changes that disrupt your daily routine.

It’s HARD to take a stand and say YES to yourself. Especially when it means saying NO to others you care about who want or need something from you.

And perhaps most importantly…

It’s HARD to be kind to yourself. Especially if you’re not used to giving yourself a break.

How many times have you beaten yourself up for not exercising when you said you would? Or for getting triggered by something your partner did when you promised yourself you wouldn’t let it bother you anymore? Or for crying, yet again, over something others said was no big deal?

Now hear this…

We, Tree and Stick Girl, hereby grant you permission to be kind to yourself…. no matter how epicly you fail at something. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it just means you failed at doing something you tried to do.

You see, even though I failed at my initial commitment to be offline for a month, I’m still pretty darn amazing.

And so are you!

And now I’m going to show up, fess up and try it again.

And so can you.

When you separate the failed attempt from yourself (I failed at taking a month off when I said I would) and don’t make it about you or your identity (I’m a failure), you remove the unnecessary drama, negativity and self-pity.

So it didn’t quite work out this week for my offline sabbatical. I’m simply going to try it again. I give myself permission to not only fall every once in a while (or a lot) but also to pick myself up and try it again.

But first, I’ve already committed to doing a live interview with my friend and media mentor, Selena Soo, tomorrow. I’m really excited about this because it’s an exclusive, invitation-only webinar offering a backstage peek inside her program that’s helped me gain the media attention to spread my wings and serve more people, allowing me to be a part of the change I wish to see in the world. If you’re interested in joining the webinar and hearing more of my personal story about how I got my passion business off the ground, you’ll need to sign up here asap. We go live tomorrow (and there will be time for audience questions too)!

Also, early next week, I’m doing a live Q&A call with my Soulful Love Summit pass holders to talk about anything they want to talk about related to love and relationships. I’ll be around for an hour to answer any questions they have about what they learned in the summit or anything about my own relationships and what I’ve learned. If you’re interested in joining me on this live call next week, click here for more details.

And late next week… I’ll try again for my second (and hopefully final) attempt at taking a month off!  🙂

To love, light and second chances,

Tree

PS – Thank you SO MUCH for the flood of emails that poured in after last week’s post. I truly appreciate all the advice, support and personal stories you shared about your own struggles. I can’t possibly respond to all of them but I want you to know that I read each and every one of your emails and I appreciate you deeply. Thank you for being an important witness to my life. I only hope I can do the same for you. 

I see you.

 

What Dims Your Light?

In the past 12 months, I’ve been noticing something strange happening to my body. First, it seemed that every time I ate a new fruit, my mouth swelled up into a rashy, itchy, tickly, pouty blob, even fruits I’ve always eaten before with no problems. So I started keeping a list. Evidently, now I’m allergic to cantaloupes, kiwis, pineapples, plums, nectarines, cherries, cherimoyas and peaches. While I can still enjoy grapes, honeydews, mangoes, apples and bananas today, I don’t know if the next time I eat them, my mouth is going to turn into a botox-injection-gone-wrong.

So I had an allergy test and found out that, according to my doctor, I’m “basically highly allergic to everything”. She recommended carrying Benadryl in my purse everywhere I go just in case my body decides to be deathly allergic to yet another thing one day.

In the past month plus, I’ve been experiencing other strange symptoms. It started with itchiness and hives. At any given time throughout the day, random parts of my body will start to itch like crazy (like there are red ants scrambling around underneath my skin biting me from the inside out), and that area will break out in hives. First my feet, then a patch on my arm, then on my back.

Through all this, I’ve developed a condition called dermatographia, aka “skin writing”. That’s right. I can write on my skin. See?

Stick Girl says “hi”.

No one knows why this happens or what causes it. I just scratch lightly on my skin and within minutes it welts up. And then it’s gone again in about 20-30 minutes. Pretty cool superpower, but somewhat annoying because if I accidentally scratch or brush my skin against anything, I’ve got a swollen mark to deal with for 30 minutes. So now, not only am I sensitive, so is my skin. Everything it touches (clothes, bed sheets, chairs, my boyfriend…) affects it.

Related (or not) to the itchiness is a feeling of heaviness in my chest and it becomes hard to breathe. This happens even at times when I’m not exerting any energy or moving, like when I’m sitting on the floor petting my dogs. I can regain my breath by arching my back and taking long, deep, controlled breaths but it’s still labored and intensive until its fully regained.

There are a few more symptoms but I won’t bore you with the details.

In my doctor’s quest to figure out what’s happening, I’ve had a blood test, chest x-ray, EKG and CT scan, which all came out normal. So their answer is to medicate me. I’ve been on one medication after another, all of which I tried one pill and stopped because they made me nauseous and/or loopy. This is just half of what I’ve been prescribed in the last month or so.

Let me just say that I hate… HATE!… taking meds. It makes me feel…. not me. I’m not myself when I’m taking drugs. I feel… muted.

It dims my light.

It dims ME.

You know what else dims me?

Finding out last year that I can’t have babies. That my body is not capable of getting pregnant.

But I was too busy to deal with it when the doctor told me, so I kept pushing on with my life and my projects and I told myself I’m too old at 46 and too tired now to have a baby and raise a child anyway. Besides, how am I going to go on spontaneous weekend fishing trips with a baby? So I didn’t mourn this piece of news. I did nothing with it except brush it off into the dark corner of my soul. Because, after all, gotta look on the bright side, right?

In fact, I even told myself I didn’t want a baby anyway. Of course, I forgot about this letter I wrote to my unborn child when I thought having a baby was still a realistic ideal. And I forgot about my visions of a boy, ONE boy with a very distinct personality, that wash over me every once in a while. Somehow, I know I’m his mother. But how could that be? He doesn’t exist anywhere other than in my foggy visions. I used to think he was my unborn son coming to visit me in spirit before I bring him into this world. But now I realize that’s an impossibility. I can’t bring babies into this world.

You know what else dims me?

Dropping my mama dog, Evea, off to get spayed at the vet one morning last year only to have the vet call me an hour later to tell me they can’t put her under or she could die. Why? Turns out she has a valvular heart defect and one side of her heart is double the size of the other. The cause is unknown and they can’t do surgery to correct it. But before she had her babies, she’d been to the vet and was healthy. Perhaps us taking her babies away literally broke her heart? Here’s mama with her babies.

You know what else dims me?

Not sitting down to process my feelings about heavy things like this.

Continuing to go, go, go and do, do, do. There’s something to be said for allowing the space to mourn. To cry. To grieve. To scream out, fists raised to the heavens, and say, “you know what? This f***ing sucks!” instead of “oh well, let’s make the most of it, there’s nothing we can do about it.”

F*** that.

There’s a time to suck things up and there’s a time to proclaim “this f***king sucks!”

I’m done making the most of shitty things. It does f***ing suck that my dog might die any day now and I can never have babies. I can reason it away all I want and tell myself how late it is for me anyway and I enjoyed a free life without having to deal with diapers and babies and baby sitters, do I really want to start motherhood from scratch and go through it all now anyway? I have an amazing 14 year old step-daughter who’s very much like my own child.

And while all that rationale rings true…. god damn it, it still f***ing sucks!

I never said that when I found out. I never allowed myself to have a tantrum about it. I never even thought much more about it after leaving the doctor’s office that day. I didn’t feel much of anything really… I was… numb.

But you can bet my HEART felt it. My SOUL felt it. The Warrior Goddess WOMAN in me felt it.

The MOTHER in me felt it.

And it hurt.

So somehow, in some crazy unable-to-connect-the-dots kind of way but knowing that everything in life is interconnected and feeling a sense that there’s some sort of cleansing process that my mind, body and spirit is calling for and that the Universe is leading me toward… my mystery symptoms, my recent non-mourning and non-releasing of deep wounds that I don’t care to admit are deep… all signs lead toward a commitment that demands to be made… to myself.

A commitment to stop.

And go within.

And FEEL.

And so, for the next month, I’m getting rid of all distractions so that I can do just that. No social media. No internet. No news. No TV. No “just one more thing” with my business. No projects. No blog posts. No nothing.

I can no longer use the excuse that life is busy, I have too much to do, I can’t stop now and deal with this or that, I’ll deal with it later.

No.

I’ll deal with it now.

Or I will die.

Maybe not physically (maybe so?)… but the light inside me will burn out.

And we can’t let that happen, can we?

Your light is YOU. If that goes, YOU go, and all that’s left is a hollow shell.

I’m not a hollow shell. I refuse to be.

I am Tree. And I’m coming out.

But first, I need to go within.

Deep, deep within.

So before I get to suck things up and look on the bright side, be strong and keep moving, I’ve gotta first STOP, have a tantrum (for much longer than 5 minutes!), and then I’m diving in. And I’m gonna find my bright light, my love, my truth and healing. Part of my process will be to repeat my 7 Day Self-Love Challenge for Sensitive Souls. There’s a powerful healing & forgiveness practice in there. Other parts will include reading, journaling, meditating, yoga, nature, fishing, communing with God, and more self-reflection. And mourning. And allowing the beauty of grace to lead me deeper into myself, into life and into love.

I’m signing off now, for at least a month or however long the Spirit calls me, but don’t worry, I have some exciting things lined up in the next few weeks for you (you won’t even know I’m gone… it’s all already been set up and automated! Yay automation!) and my super amazing assistant, Melody, will be watching my emails for anything urgent. You’re welcome to email her directly at support@findyourinnerhappy.com. She’s also going to keep the updates coming, as there are a few things lined up including your answered questions about depression, a guest post from a beautiful soul who also writes for Tiny Buddha, called “How to Care for Your Sensitive Spirit”, and more!

Ha! I guess my business really CAN run without me!

But my body can’t.

So I’m off to heal some internal wounds, and hopefully, the mystery symptoms will be healed in the process.

Much love to you,

Tree

PS – before I go…. let me ask you something…. What dims YOUR light? And what do you need to face… what do you need to experience… what do you need to feel… in order to brighten that little light of yours?

Come join me on the 7 Day Self-Love Challenge?

 

 

Emotions Are the Doorway to the Soul

In my late teens and twenties, I suffered from severe depression.

I used to lie in bed every night and pray that by some magical stroke of mercy, the bed would swallow me up while I slept and I’d finally be granted a pardon from this life sentence. And every morning, I woke up, sinking a little deeper into my bed, into my depression, as I realized I was still alive.

One particular morning, I became so angry I yelled, “I DON’T F***ING WANT TO FEEL THIS ANYMORE!!”

My body let out a blood curdling scream of desperation, the intensity of which surprised me. I lay in bed for a moment, shocked at the power from which the scream emerged.

And then I heard, “Feel it more.”

I didn’t exactly hear it with my ears. It was more like a whisper from the depths of my soul, a small urging from within.

My first reaction was defensive. “Are you f***ing kidding me?” (I was pretty angry back then). But as my ego subsided and my mind quieted, I heard it again: “Feel it more.”

I closed my eyes, somehow trusting, and took a deep, long breath.

Before I could exhale, a surge of raw, unfiltered sorrow emerged from deep within me and radiated out through every cell of my body.

Scared and trembling, I continued to breathe.

And feel.

And cry.

There was no resistance. I had surrendered.

Like a wave, it washed over and through me, and then was gone. There was nothing left but silence.

And peace.

The most profound peace I had ever felt.

I felt a divine union with God, with my soul, with life.

Since that day, though it didn’t happen overnight, my depression has dissolved into a radiant, inner joy; and when painful emotions arise, I recognize that they’re here to help me connect more intimately. By embracing and accepting my emotions without any attempts to resist or judge, it opens a doorway into my soul, showing me who I really am.

In that simple act of surrender, I’m released from its painful grip.

 

[This is an excerpt from the best-selling book “365 Ways to Connect With Your Soul”]

5 Tips To Supercharge Your Gratitude List & Infuse Your Life With Joy

ThankYou

 

Years ago, before I realized there was such a thing as trying too hard to be happy, I had a ritual I did before going to sleep every night. I’d climb into bed, turn off the lamp, and the moment my mind and body settled into its comfortably sweet sleep spot where stress, overwhelm and the day’s responsibilities gave way to peace, quiet and promises of flying dreams, I’d realize I had forgotten to write in my daily gratitude journal.
read more…

Finding Help in Unlikely Places… Like Your Bra! (Guest Post)

Many of my readers rave about the power of crystals and stones. While I don’t doubt the impact they’ve had on their lives, I’ve always felt that it’s the energy of the person and their intentions, thoughts and beliefs that bring about the healing, not necessarily the crystals themselves. Until recently, I hadn’t yet fully embraced the woo-woo-ness of the energetic power of crystals. The idea that certain crystals carry certain healing or attracting energies – in and of themselves – seemed a bit “out there”. 

 

Yea, I know… coming from someone who sees stick figures, I totally get the irony of that statement. 

 

I don’t know why I was close-minded about it but recognizing that I’d slammed up against a limiting belief, I decided to get a crystal and see for myself how it works. Fascinated by an article I recently read about a woman who started a business of hiding crystals in your bra, I headed over to her website at HiddenHippie.com and bought a crystal.

 

Next week, I’ll write about the crazy thing that happened to me after I started shoving crystals down my bra, but today, I’m so happy to share an article that the founder of Hidden Hippie, Laura Ellis, wrote exclusively for us! I told her about my disbelief, my experiment and about you, lovely readers, and she wrote this post to explain the power of healing crystals, how they help her stop absorbing other people’s moods and how they can help you, too. Hope you enjoy it!

 

What do you do when you’re super sensitive and feel like you might burst with emotions, but your identity is so strongly tied to being rational and poised that you’re left bottling everything in?

 

Perhaps, like I was, you’re in an intense corporate environment where above all, you must. be. professional. AKA no emotions on sleeves! And besides, even if you could just let it all out and share your feelings to everyone, that doesn’t feel like you either.

 

It’s not that you want to share all your sensitive emotions, you just need help processing them.

 

Well, we’re in the same boat.

 

I’ve always prided myself on being a Type A, ambitious go-getter that doggedly goes after what she wants ~cough~ Capricorn ~cough~. But with that comes the tendency to overwork, heap too much pressure on myself and ultimately burn out. Throw in being super sensitive and soaking up the energy of others and, well, let’s just say I learnt early on that I needed to find some balance.

 

It turns out that the help I needed was from an unlikely source…

 

Energy healers. I’m talking things like reiki, kinesiology and BodyTalk.

 

I grew up with a far more science than spiritual experiences, so you could say I was a litttttle resistant – what if my brothers found out? I’d be teased for years. Or coworkers. I couldn’t bear the idea of being ridiculed, judged, and possibly lose the credibility I’d worked so hard for. I was still scarred with embarrassment from the one time a coworker found a list of “Things are great! I am enough!” affirmations on my desk… I wasn’t in a rush to let them know there was even more to it!

 

Regardless, I quietly stuck with it for years because rain, hail or shine, it worked for me.

 

Despite this, sometimes you’re thrown into environments where you need a trick or tool to help you in the right now. You don’t have time to wait until your next reiki session! Sometimes, you really need help shielding yourself from the small day to day stuff before it builds up. You know, like when you’re in a cramped, beige office with no windows. Day in, day out, it’s just you, walls and the delightful company of a snarky pessimist.

 

As luck would have it, it was during one of these times that I was introduced to healing crystals. They were perfect! A talisman, a little piece of energy clearing zen to carry with me!

 

Or could I?

 

No offense to new-age spiritual stores, but wire wrapped obelisks and orbs don’t go well with my corporate getup.

 

And pockets? They were few and far between so I could scrap that idea.

 

So, what’s a girl to do?

 

Well, this girl started hiding them in her bra.

 

And like every other alternative, hippie thing I’ve tried, it worked like a charm, no pun intended.

 

Keeping them discreet felt like I had a secret weapon under my dress! Magic. Plus, because they were hidden, there were no awkward office conversations about my private hippie ways.

 

I remember feeling like I had an energy force field protecting me when I went into the office. I’d arrive feeling happy and like myself (thank you joyful, abundant Citrine), and when my cheerful hellos were greeted with “uuugggh, it’s Wednesday. I hate Wednesday’s” the negativity just slipped off me. Not more absorbing of other peoples ‘meh’ moods, so I was able to stay in control and balanced throughout the day.

 

You may be wondering what the hell I’m going on about – healing crystals? How exactly do they help with your emotion and energy?

 

Here’s the lowdown: crystals are known to clear and protect energy, and even attract and amplify the energy they’re associated with. In a nutshell, they’re all about good joo-joo. There are crystals to attract and promote everything – love, joy, money, creativity.

 

But what if you’re not sold on the whole energy part? That’s cool too. I think it’s safe to say their good vibes don’t just turn off because you’re not quite sold on the ~woo-woo~ part. So really, whether you believe in that part or not, it’s a win-win.

 

The most important part in trying new things is the intention behind it.  

 

In fact, here’s how they work for me…

 

Ever noticed how when you decide you’re in the market for a new skirt, suddenly all you see are skirts, skirts, skirts? It’s the same deal.

 

When you pick a crystal that’s associated with what you want to bring in to your life, and you see or touch it throughout the day, you’re training your mind to pay attention to the little openings and opportunities that roll your way to fulfill that goal.

 

Yep, a pretty reminder to keep your eyes peeled.

 

If I’m carrying some aquamarine for example — the calming, courageous crystal — I’m reminded throughout the day to take deep breaths and respond with poise when I feel a little worked up and would normally react with frustration.

 

One time I was wearing aquamarine when a guy stepped on the back of my shoe. My favorite shoes. My favorite white shoes. Greaaaaat. Now they had a big obvious tread mark that had to be professionally removed. Reminded of my intention for the day when I chose to carry aquamarine, I took a deep breath before gently thanking the dude for his apology, calling a shoe fixer upper and moving on with my day. No more tension and negativity swelling up in my chest. Calllllllmmmmm.

 

Like a lot of people, I get reallllllllllly nervous public speaking so I’ve also used it to keep me from losing my marbles before running workshops and talks. It pulls me into the present, reminding me of my intention to relax and have courage.

 

Simply put, they train you to look for what it is you want to attract. They increase awareness and open your eyes to opportunities out there that are what you want, but may be missing.

 

So if you’re like me – perhaps a little introverted and private – and the idea of sharing your emotions with the world is a bit of a stretch, try something a little different. Throw everything at it. For me, it was working with all sorts of energy healers and crystals. Maybe it’ll work for you too!

Laura is the founder and creator of Hidden Hippie where she’s all about finding what works for you (even if it’s a little quirky!) to live an abundant life. Head to HiddenHippie.com and sign up for their monthly crystal giveaway. You’ll also get updates and early access to her flagship course, FULL, so you can fill your life with love, joy and wealth. 

Laura has generously gifted a ROSE QUARTZ healing crystal with bra clip – completely free, with shipping, handling and love all included – to one lucky reader! To enter for your chance to win, do any of the following:

  1. In the comments below, share your thoughts about this article, your experiences, beliefs or disbeliefs with crystals or anything you’d like.
  2. Share this article on Facebook or twitter using the hashtag #hiddenhippie.
  3. Do something kind for yourself today.

Winners will be selected at random and announced next week. We won’t know if you do #3, unless you tell us, but do it anyway. For yourself.  😛 

Good luck!

UPDATE: GINNY W. won the free crystal. This free giveaway is over. Thanks to everyone who played!

What DON’T You Want In Your Life?

 

In a few hours, my man and I are driving up north for a romantic long weekend in the Eastern Sierras.

 

Just us. No kids. No dogs. No responsibilities.

 

Ahhhh, just the thought of that makes my belly smile. I can’t remember the last time we went away on our own.

 

As I pack, I go through my mental list:

 

Fishing poles… Check.

Waders… Check.

Hammock… Check.

Extra clothes… Not check!

 

Our trips usually include me overstuffing my bag with more clothes than I need, because no matter how much we remind the girls (our 14 year old and her BFFs) to pack everything they could possibly think of, we’ll inevitably wake up in the hotel the next morning and hear, “does anyone have an extra bra? I forgot to pack one.”

 

Bra. Underwear. Tampons. You name it, someone has forgotten it.

 

So my suitcase usually includes the entire contents of a Target store. Nothing is sacred in our household. Not even underwear. I have long stopped trying to convince the girls that sharing underwear is a big no-no. I’ve learned to pick my battles. Life is happier that way. (TMI, sorry, I know)

 

As I finish packing my suitcase, which feels unfamiliarly light, I notice a peaceful lightness in my heart.

 

And I realize:

 

Happiness isn’t only about what you INCLUDE in your life, it’s also about what you DON’T include.

 

Things like…

Extra baggage.

Drama.

Chaos.

 

Teenagers.

 

Just kidding!

 

(well, in all honesty… for this weekend, I’m not kidding.)

 

I think back to 25 year old me when I was immersed in suffering, lost in a suffocating layer of depression…

 

35 year old me when I was immersed in self-hatred, lost in trying to be someone else to please a man (and the string of men before him) who wasn’t worthy of my efforts…

 

And now, 45 year old me… in a few hours, I’m going to be immersed in waist deep water, lost in the rivers of the Eastern Sierras, doing my favorite thing with my favorite person.

(No, you dirty minded empath! I’m talking about FISHING!) 🙂

 

I’ve chosen to exclude suffering, self-hatred and shame from my life.

 

While “pretending-to-be-someone-else-so-they’ll-love-me” pretty much sums up my entire life until recently, I no longer include this in my life either.

 

Little by little, day by day, I made better choices, and those other things faded away, making room for happier, healthier and lighter things.

 

Like the half-empty suitcase sitting on my bed without all the extra baggage.

 

What do you choose to exclude from your life?

 

Whatever it is, make a choice, in each moment it presents itself to you, to NOT include it.

 

Instead, pivot your attention to including things that uplift, feed and nurture you.

 

Little by little, day by day.

 

And before long, what you don’t want will fade away, making room for all you could possibly dream of.

 

Is Life Really Supposed To Be Easy?

 

 

“It’s gonna be hard, you’ll just have to suck it up,” my boyfriend warned me.

 

“Can you do that?” he asked, leading me out to the backyard where he was building our dog house.

 

It felt as if the grassy path from the back door to the dog house was a plank and I was being led to the end of it, where I’d agree to be pushed off to fend for myself in the shark infested waters. read more…

How to (Nothing)

 

Dearest soul,

 

I’ve been trying to come up with a really valuable article for you. Something that you can tangibly do that will help you. Something that will give you an “a-ha” moment. Something that will spark a light inside you to be happier, live more fully, love more openly. Hurt less.

 

But here’s the truth…

 

I’m tired of writing “how-to” articles.

 

I’m tired of providing valuable tips, advice, words and techniques to try to help you.

 

I write this stuff because you ask for it. And I want to help.

 

You scroll your Facebook feed, obsessively refresh your inbox and scour the internet… searching for answers… you want THE answer…. something that will make everything better. Something that will finally let you know that you are truly OK. That this mess called life has purpose and meaning.

 

I’m sure I’ll keep writing this stuff and you’ll keep asking.

 

But not today.

 

Today, I’m not going to give you any practical advice.

 

Today, I’m not going to give you any actionable tips.

 

Today, I’m not going to try to help you.

 

Today, I’m just going to tell you how I really feel about you.

 

And here it is:

  • You don’t have to DO anything.
  • You don’t have to ACHIEVE anything.
  • You don’t have to LEARN anything.
  • You don’t have to GET anything.
  • You don’t have to BECOME anything.
  • You don’t have to FIND any answers.
  • You don’t have to TAKE any more courses (not even mine).
  • You don’t have to FIGURE OUT how to make that magic wand work.
  • You don’t have to READ another article.
  • No more.
  • There is no MORE that needs to be found, uncovered or learned.
  • There is no MORE that needs to be forgiven, loved or accepted.

 

I teach all these tools and techniques and it’s all for what?

 

On one level, I know it helps. You’ve told me it helps. Some of you write to me crying and spilling your heart out. And I’m grateful that I can be a facilitator in helping you see your own light in this world. This deeply fulfills me.

 

That I can help you feel a little better when you’re in a social situation and getting anxious because someone’s being super critical.

That I can help you move through your heartache from the betrayal of that breakup.

That I can help you feel compassion for yourself when all you’ve felt was anger.

 

But beyond this… there’s a deeper layer of healing, and truth.

 

All that other stuff is surface stuff. I know it hurts and some of it cuts really deep.

 

But there’s a deeper layer beyond the pain and our human struggles.

It’s called the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

 

The truth is you are perfect just as you are. There’s nothing for me to help. There’s nothing for you to fix. There’s just… nothing.

 

And in this nothingness, beauty graces us with her presence.

And the Universe explodes in stars and galaxies of reverence for our existence.

 

I drew the TreeDoodle above a while ago.

Today, I remind you (and myself), to dance among the stars.

Today, let’s transcend all our struggles and fears.

Today, let’s not try to fix ourselves or accept ourselves or even change the world.

Today, let’s look at the bigger picture and remember who we truly are.

 

But it doesn’t really matter.

We can remember… or not.

We can transcend… or not.

We can dance… or not.

 

The truth is the same no matter what.

You are the Universe.

And you are perfect.

 

That is all.

How to Be Happy Even While You’re Sad

Every day for the past 8 weeks, I’ve been waking up to this, times 9:

Can you imagine 9 of these sweet faces looking up at you, happy to see you every morning? No matter how tired you are of cleaning their poop, pee, puke and everything else that comes out of them, you can’t help but soften like butter on a hot day as soon as you see them. (more…)

Feeling disheartened today? Take a TreeBreath

photo-1433588641602-7c1083c4f0e2

 

 

I broke my “no media” rule this morning. No TV. No emails. No internet. These rules are usually non-negotiable. Mornings are my sacred “me time” exclusively reserved for affairs of the heart and soul. The energy I harness from my mornings carry me through until night and act as a resource that I can tap into throughout the day when I need a “happy boost.”

 

But today, even though I knew who won the election before I climbed out of bed, I consciously broke my rule. I couldn’t help it. The emotions inside me were too much, gnawing at me, compelling me to see what the world thinks and feels.

 

I knew it wasn’t going to do me any good, but I did it anyway. I went on Facebook. Then after the first post I saw in my feed, I did a facepalm, and sunk deeper into my couch.

 

My heart felt heavy. My chest pressed in. My stomach churned. Reading comments sucked me in even more, made me feel darker and heavier. Even the ones who claim to stand for love and peace are angrily slinging vile and hate. And fear. So much fear. Rage. Anger. Disgust. At one another.

 

I felt the heaviness of the country’s pain collapse in on me and I immediately did my TreeBreath technique. I needed to anchor. I hadn’t yet grounded myself before going online. Opening Facebook first thing in the morning, on THIS day of all days? What was I thinking? Why didn’t I at least anchor myself before throwing myself into the storm?

 

I knew there would be more anger, cruelty, fear and disgust than love, grace, beauty and hope.

 

Yet I threw myself into it anyway.

 

My TreeBreath technique calmed me and brought me back to the light. I teach this in my Emotional Resilience course, but given the emotional state of today, I’ve decided to give it away free here.

The TreeBreath Technique

This is a 6 step technique that can be done in less than 2 minutes, anytime, anywhere. We dive deeper into this technique in my course, it takes up an entire module with 5 different videos to dig further into the process.  But here’s a condensed Cliff’s Notes version that will help you start today whenever you feel stressed, anxious or emotional. It also works when your mind chatters at 100 miles an hour and you can’t seem to stop it.

B

BREATHE

The first thing you do when you become aware of the emotional stress is BREATHE. Take a deep, full, long breath in.

Consciously taking a breath is a form of mental distraction. The mind can’t fully focus on more than one thing at the exact same time, so when you intentionally stop and breathe, you turn the mind’s focus to breathing instead of the millions of scattered thoughts or emotions that are consuming you. And biologically, you also get a good rush of oxygen to your brain so you’re more alert to handle it.

If you were to demand of yourself that your mind stop yakking, it would revolt and get even louder. Just like when you tell a kid NO, they often want to do it even more. So you distract your mental chatter by giving your mind a physical action to focus on.

 

R

RELEASE

While breathing helped you shift into a mental state of focus, releasing will get you into a physical state of flow. Notice the parts of your body that are feeling discord. Are your shoulders tight? Is your chest heavy? Is your stomach knotted? As you continue breathing, do a mental sweep down your body starting at the top of your head, down to the tips of your toes. What’s going on in there? Notice where you’re holding your emotion. Is your anger in the pit of your stomach? Is your sadness in your heart? Is your pain trapped in your throat because you’re holding back from crying?

If you’re feeling heart palpitations, imagine yourself breathing in to your heart and breathing the palpitation out. If it’s tightness in your stomach, breathe into your stomach and breathe out the tightness. The inhale focuses the intention onto the physical part of your body and the exhale releases it, moves it out of your body.  Do it as many times as you need.

Many of us have learned to disconnect from our bodies because at some point it was just too overwhelming and we wanted to numb out. If you’re having a difficult time tuning into your body, physically contract the part of you that you think is tight or might be holding on to emotional stress. Hold it for 5 seconds, squeezing as tight as you can. Then release with an exhale.

Breathe. And Release.

Not only will you be more clear and focused mentally, but you’ll also start feeling a physical calm wash over you. Your body will relax a little, loosen up and release the tension it was previously gripping.

 

E

ENERGY

When you are emotionally overdrawn, when you’re overwhelmed, exhausted and on the verge of an actual viable emotional breakdown, you need more than mental calm from breathing and physical shifts from releasing.

You need an emotional overhaul.

And that starts by recognizing your emotions are simply energy. We are all vibrating beings, and emotions are nothing more than vibrating fluctuations in energy moving through an already vibrating body of energy.

So when you see that your emotions – anger, fear, rage, sadness, joy, happiness – are just energy, much like the electricity that runs through your walls, they lose the power they have over you.

When you don’t have a relationship with electricity, you don’t judge it, you don’t label it as good or bad, you don’t feel guilty about it, ashamed, angry… you don’t even try to lasso it so it doesn’t get away. It simply is. And you accept that.

If you can release your relationship with your emotions, in the same way that you have no relationship with electricity, your emotions will come and go and will move through you quickly and openly. You may become enraged because of something that just happened, like someone becoming President or the backlash on each side because of it, but if you let go of your judgement and relationship to rage, and accept that it’s nothing more than energy, it will pass as quickly as it came.

You’re no longer holding on to emotions, you’re no longer resisting and fighting them, which only makes them stronger. And you no longer have to sit for hours (or years) trying to work through them in therapy or getting stuck in your mental stories about them.

So the third step is recognizing that emotions are just ENERGY. No judgement on you for feeling them and no judgement on the emotions for being. We can let go of our need to label them as good or bad or mad or sad. It’s just energy. All of it.

In this recognition, your emotion softens, loosening from your tight grip of judgment.

 

A

ALLOW

The next 2 steps are my favorites because they call for surrender. And surrender is by far the most liberating and empowering tool you could activate in your spiritual arsenal.

I’m not a religious person, I don’t follow any one particular organized religion, but I believe in God. Whether it’s a Universal Force or a Source of all things or a Mystical Deity, it doesn’t matter to me. All that matters is I know there’s a Power greater than what I’m consciously aware of and it’s bigger than the Universe.

When I let go of my small sense of self, this flawed, imperfect, mortal human ego self, and I tap into soul, spirit, immortality, life, love, peace, order, I KNOW all is well. REALLY well. Not just well because I have extra money in the bank, or a loving family or a nice house or even my health. But well because I exist. Because I’m alive. Because I’m loved. Deeply. Beyond comprehension.

Once I recognize that my emotions are energy, I move on to the next step and ALLOW. I allow them to flow. I let them be. Without judgment.

How you usually feel about something is often made worse by how you feel about feeling it.

This deserves repeating because it’s so important.

How you usually feel about something is often made worse by how you feel about feeling it.

Ever get so angry with someone that you actually want to hurt them?

And how do you feel about the fact that you want to hurt someone else? YOU, specifically, who ache for a kinder, more loving world.

Usually you feel bad about it, at least after the anger has subsided. You may feel guilty or ashamed that you acted mean or unkind or had hurtful thoughts toward another living soul.

These are all judgements upon ourselves and our own feelings that tend to create more havoc than the initial hurtful feelings.

Look, we’re human. We get angry. We say and do hurtful things sometimes.

Release your judgement on what you’re feeling right now and simply allow the feeling to flow. This doesn’t mean go attack someone because you’re angry. This means sit or stand where you are and let the anger flow through your body, not directed at anyone else but internally recognized and externally released on your own. It may be a shudder that rolls through your chest and arms. It may be a short loud scream from your gut, through your throat and out of your mouth. It may be jumping jacks. It may be a deep, long, quiet breath. Whatever it is, let it flow.

This is about you and your emotion now, no one else. Not the President. Not the policies. Not the people.

This is an exercise for YOU to help you deal with the emotions YOU are feeling. Release all the stories around the emotions and simply ALLOW them to flow through.

 

T

TRUST

When you start allowing your emotions to flow in a healthy way, you’ll notice they don’t stick around as long. It’s the stories we’ve attached to the emotions that stick around. The emotion itself, like anger, will just come and go if you let yourself feel it without resistance, attachment or judgment. It will pass through like a wave in an ocean. Gone, just like that, in minutes, even seconds.

And in doing this over and over again, you’ll come to know that you can TRUST that not only can you survive THROUGH the emotional pain but that you can be FREE of it. It can no longer grip you and take a hold of you and thrash you around like a rabid dog with a ragdoll.

You can get through this. You can get over it.

It’s a matter of getting back to your CORE. To re-centering yourself when you’ve gone off kilter. When you sit with the fourth step – ALLOW – and keep breathing as you do this – allowing the emotions to come and go, ebb and flow, you’ll begin to TRUST again. You’ll get back in touch with that Bigger You, the one who knows all is well. The one who understands there’s a reason for everything and it’s always towards everyone’s greater good, despite how it appears.

It’s as if you sit back into the seat of your soul and watch – merely observing – unattached – as all these emotions and thoughts and craziness rise up before you.

You just sit back, allow it to happen and trust, knowing all is well.

Of course, if you’re not there yet, it’s not that easy.

But this fifth step of Trust takes care of itself. It’s not something that can be forced or pushed. It’s something that just washes over you with practice and surrender. It’s like trying so hard to relax. You don’t have to TRY to relax, you just have to relax.

The more you do the first 4 steps, the more you learn to trust. At first, while you’re new at this, this step serves as a mental reminder to trust. To release any little knots of limiting beliefs, lack, doom and gloom. It reminds you that it’s OK to trust in something good, something beautiful and loving and pure. It’s OK to trust that your emotions are simply energy. It’s OK to trust that the world is going to be OK. And it’s OK to not understand how that could possibly be.

Don’t try to force this step. Just know what it stands for and allow it to be what it is, trusting that the Universe has your back. Things are happening outside your realm of understanding and consciousness that’s working toward all that is good.

 

H

HEAL

This last step also takes care of itself. Like the step before, you don’t have to do anything with this step other than to know what it stands for and allow it to be what it is. If you move through the TreeBreath technique, you’ll heal. It’s automatic.

When you start practicing this technique, you’ll notice that it takes effort and focus. You have to be present and aware enough to recognize when you’re starting to stress (so you can BREATHE), you have to listen to your body (and start to RELEASE), you have to let go of your judgment over your emotions (recognizing it’s just ENERGY), and you have to surrender to an invisible power (ALLOW & TRUST).

That’s quite a bit of work.

Fortunately the last step requires no work, effort, energy or attention on your part.  You don’t have to do anything about this one. The last step is HEAL and it takes care of itself when you do the other steps. You’ll automatically heal from whatever emotional trauma or upset or stress you may be going through. You’re healed of it in the exact moment that you do these steps fully.

Life might grab you by the throat 2 days from now when something out of your control happens and you’ll have to repeat the steps but the more you do them, the less you’ll have to do them. The less you’ll find yourself stressed out, even in situations that previously turned you into an uptight geyser ready to erupt.

You’ll find that you’ll get better and better at it. It doesn’t take long to go through the steps. You can nail it in less than 10 seconds and be on with your super self. You can turn a frenetic, stressful mind into one of calm, relaxed confidence immediately.

Sometimes you might have to stop on one step and spend a little more time on it, and sometimes you can cycle through them quickly. Just remember to keep breathing deeply throughout the whole cycle. Once you’ve got this down, it will take less than 2 minutes every time to get back to your peaceful center.

 

Breathe

Release

Energy

Allow

Trust 

Heal

You can use this technique when you’re feeling sad, for stress relief, when you’re overwhelmed at work with too many things to do, or you can use it when you’re experiencing heavy emotional trauma and about to have a meltdown.

Despite when you use it, it will help you center yourself, to get back to your spiritual basecamp, to re-energize, regain your footing, your calm, clear space so that you can move forward from it without being stuck in it.

And that’s the problem with stress and overwhelm and emotional turmoil. We feel stuck. We think it’s never going to end. We don’t know how to get out of it. It’s like we’re stuck in quicksand and the more we struggle to try to get out, the deeper we get pulled into it.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We’re not stuck. We just have to utilize the right tools to move forward from it.

The Fundamental Difference Between “Empath” & “Highly Sensitive Person”

Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about the misuse and inappropriate interchange of the terms “empath” and “highly sensitive person”. Among countless reasons, one issue seems to be that some empaths are annoyed with highly sensitive people for clumping themselves to the empath’s sacred namesake and highly sensitive people are frustrated to be automatically categorized in some woo-woo out-of-this-world term that undermines who they are biologically.

(more…)

“Why Can’t You Just Be Happy?”

little-girl-1611352_1280

 

One of my new readers recently shared this with me:

 

“My husband is finding it really hard too as he can’t understand, I bring him down as he says “There’s always something wrong, there’s actually nothing wrong, why can’t you just be happy”. I so wish I did feel happy, at the moment I just feel terrible and like I have no one to talk to about it or way out. My whole life I’ve felt different…”

 

Aaaaaah, if only a new tree would grow every time someone said “why can’t you just be happy,” our rainforests would flourish again.

read more…

The Not-So-Subtle Art of Being Mark Manson: A Book Review

manson-book

MarkManson.net

 

There’s nothing subtle about Mark Manson. He’s crude, vulgar and doesn’t give a f*ck.

 

But like anything of true value in life, dig a little deeper and you’ll find treasure worthy of any explorer willing to look below the surface.

 

I recently interviewed Mark about his new book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, and found that the man behind the profanity is actually incredibly inspiring, deeply philosophical, and extremely clever.

 

So clever in fact that he’s brilliantly disguised his book using language as a way of tricking the reader into reading a book about values. 

 

Listen to the interview below:

(Warning – LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of expletives in this audio. If you’re easily offended, maybe your time would be better spent looking through these happy doodles instead. If you’d like to send me angry emails about the cussing or topics discussed in this interview, please read this article first and try to be original in your name-calling. “Asshole” has already been used.)

 

 

At its core, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is a book about finding what’s truly important to you and letting go of everything else. In the same way that he encourages limiting exposure to mindless distractions such as social media, television and technology, he encourages limiting concern over things that have little to no meaning or value in your life.

 

In our interview, Mark said, “If seeing things online or hearing things your co-workers say is really affecting you that much then you need to look at the values in your life. If your emotions are constantly being pushed this way or that way, and you feel like you’re never in control, it’s probably because you’re valuing a lot of the wrong things.”

 

More than a practical guidebook to choosing what’s important in our lives and what’s unimportant, it’s a brutally honest and much needed reality check about our personal problems, fears and expectations. It’s a bold confrontation of self, our painful truths, faults and uncertainties, without all the positive airy fairy fluff we’ve been spoon-fed to believe by self-help gurus.

 

Think positive? “Fuck positivity,” Manson says. “Let’s be honest; sometimes things are fucked up and we have to live with it.”  

 

Be extraordinary? “Not everyone can be extraordinary – there are winners and losers in society, and some if it is not fair or your fault,” Manson writes.

 

Seek happiness? “The path to happiness is a path full of shit heaps and shame,” he remarks.

 

By far, my favorite quote in the book.

 

And I’m an incessant happiness seeker.

 

Reading Mark’s book, I laughed until I snorted and cried until I shriveled. He’s as painfully honest as he is outrageously funny. I find his honesty to be refreshing and fulfilling. When every other self-help book injects you with cheap, feel-good highs that last as long as your nose remains buried in the book and serves no practical purpose out in the mud and grime of your daily life, Mark’s book yanks you out of delusion and denial, points at the pit you’re stuck in and forces you to not only look at the filth and dirt covering you but also to accept it.

 

This, he says, is the real source of empowerment. “Once we embrace our fears, faults and uncertainties – once we stop running from and avoiding, and start confronting painful truths – we can begin to find the courage and confidence we desperately seek.”

 

Instead of aiming for an unattainably perfect, problem free, feel-good life, Mark suggests asking the essential question, “What problem do you want to have?”

 

If it’s true what he writes, that “Life is essentially an endless series of problems. The solution to one problem is merely the creation of another,” then it makes sense when he tells me that life sucks for those who constantly try to get away from problems. Instead of asking “how can I get rid of my problems?” the question becomes, “What are the problems that excite me? What are the problems for which I am willing to sacrifice for, to work for?”

 

“Predicated on peddling highs to people rather than solving legitimate problems,” he calls the modern self-help market the “french fries and soda version of personal growth”. “It’s really good and easy to consume… but there is an inherently painful and difficult struggle as part of growth and if you are never willing to hit people on the face with that, most people are just gonna avoid it… They’re just going to keep finding more feel-good stuff to distract themselves with.”  

 

As any fast food restaurant can tell you, there’s a lot of money to be made in french fries and soda. And with the self-improvement industry netting $11 billion a year in the US alone, it’s no wonder the market is saturated with touchy feely everything-is-awesome french fries. You can practically lick the hope off your fingers along with the salt.

 

Manson, on the other hand, offers no hope in his book. At least, not on the surface. “This book doesn’t give a fuck about alleviating your problems or your pain,” he writes. “This book is not some guide to greatness – it couldn’t be, because greatness is merely an illusion in our minds, a made-up destination that we obligate ourselves to pursue, our own psychological Atlantis.”

 

The irony is the book actually is about greatness. It is hopeful. There’s greatness to be discovered in accepting our lack of greatness, our simplicity and beauty amidst the complex and ugly. And in embracing our problems along with the dirt, muck and grime that essentially accompany life and humanity, we come to live the good life we always yearned for.  

 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life is a deeply inspiring book about values and purpose cleverly disguised in crude four-letter vulgarity, negativity and apocalyptic doom.

 

There are no soft puffy cloud prancing unicorns offering hugs on colorful rainbows, only F-bomb explosions and brutal smack-you-in-the-face reality slaps.

 

But by the time you finish reading it, you’ll find yourself tingling with promise. The world suddenly seems brighter and lighter. You’ll feel free, and oddly, good, despite the shit sandwiches served throughout the book. And it won’t be the surfacey french fry kind of good that makes your body crave real nourishment, but the kind of home-cooked-goodness good that warms you from deep within, like you’ve just been served a hearty platter of whole, raw, organic, unfiltered truth.

 

Mark Manson is an author, blogger, and entrepreneur. His blog is read by more than 2 million people each month. He’s the author of the best-selling book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, available now on Amazon and book sellers everywhere.  

I Quit!

Tree scream

 

I quit.

I’m done.

I’ve had it.

Dear Everything,

I quit.

Sorry, no two-week notice. No training the next person. No exit interview.

Thank you very much, I’m outta here.

Love, 

Tree

 

Yesterday morning around 8:30, I was “having a moment”. Not a life-is-beautiful-relish-the-moment kind of moment. But a the-world-is-crashing-in-on-me-fast-get-the-hell-out-of-dodge kind of moment. So I sent this text to my boyfriend.

I quit text

My Godman is used to my little freak out moments. He’s used to getting texts like this from me randomly and frequently. And he doesn’t overreact to them. That’s why he’s my Godman.

He may not understand my mini-outbursts because he was admittedly miraculously born without feelings or sensitivity, but he accepts them. Partly because he knows I just watched the sunset 3 days ago. And partly because he accepts me as I am.

And he knows exactly what to do to make me feel better.

He doesn’t play into the drama. He doesn’t buy into the story. And he doesn’t stop everything he’s doing to come rescue me on his majestic white horse, sword drawn and waving menacingly in the sky.

He knows that these moments only last exactly that – mere moments. Sometimes I feel emotions so intensely that I develop sudden and temporary Alzheimer’s. I forget that emotions come and go, that they don’t linger forever unless I hold onto them. And I forget that the rest of my life – outside of those 20 seconds – is pretty damn good.

After I texted him, I felt better. And happy, relaxed Tree came back.

But this morning, I had another freak out moment. Again.

About the same things.

And happy, relaxed Tree disappeared.

Why did I freak out?

Because I had an August 31st deadline with my book publisher. Today is September 1. And I’m still staring at a blank page.

Why else?

Because I have a September 13th deadline with an interview I did with Mark Manson nearly 3 weeks ago for a Huffington Post article. And I still haven’t opened the audio recording since the day we hung up.

Why else?

Because I promised my readers answers to their questions from Elaine Aron’s new movie, Sensitive and In Love. And I still haven’t read the 2-week old email from the producers of the movie with all the answers.

Why else?

Because I’ve been hand-picked to be a success story case study for a multi-gazillion dollar business course. And I haven’t done a damn thing to keep up with their benchmarks and timelines.

Why else?

Because I’m opening my course again in November. And I haven’t even started working on the new modules or any of the launch elements.

Why else?

Because I’m giving up my 1 on 1 private coaching practice in order to serve more people in less time. And in order to do that, I need to spend more time restructuring my business model and the thought of everything that entails overwhelms me.

Why else?

Because I have 48 unread emails from my readers that are 2 months old. And I still have no idea when I’ll find the time to personally respond to each one.

Why else?

Because I’m tired. And I’m not perfect. And I’m tired. And I can’t do everything. And I’m tired.

So, I quit.

I quit trying so hard.

I quit overstretching myself.

I quit rushing through projects just to get it done.

I quit having mini-text-meltdowns (OK, maybe this one’s a lie)

I quit saying YES to everything I want.

I learned long ago to say NO to things I don’t want.

And I’ve been saying YES to things I do want.

The problem is that when you start saying YES to things you want, more things-you-want comes. And then you have to learn how to say NO to even the things you want, because sometimes it’s just too much.

Sounds like a great problem to have.

Unless you’re a highly sensitive over-achiever who gets overstimulated with more than 1.25 things on your To-Do list.

The thing is I want to do every single one of those listed above. I LOVE writing. I LOVE working on my course. I LOVE reading and responding to reader emails. I love all of it.

But I can’t do ALL of them ALL at once. Not even a week. Not even a month. And evidently, not even 6 months.

So, I quit.

I quit everything-all-at-once syndrome.

In the same way that I can only devote my heart, soul and body to ONE man, I can only devote my time, energy and focus to ONE project.

I will no longer try to do five things in one hour.

I will now try to do one thing in five hours.

And I will do that one thing with full presence, mindfulness and a sense of lightheartedness.

If it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done.

As long as no one sends a tweet to the Earth to stop spinning, I think I’m good.

This is the way I work best.

This is the way I thrive.

And this is the way I actually get to enjoy doing the things I love.

 

So what do you quit? I’d love to read your resignation letters in the comments below.

(But I may not respond for a few months… because, well, you know…. I just quit and all.)

How To Stop Absorbing Other People’s Emotions – A Spongy Experiment

crowd anxiety absorb emotions
 
I’ve been experimenting with a silly new idea lately. 

If you know me, you know that I LOVE silly techniques that can instantly pull us out of our ordinary every day routines, habits and thought waves (I think this is the quickest way to cause change – by disrupting our brain patterns!)

 
If you know me, you also know that I LOVE experimenting on my students, readers and clients.  🙂  (thank you for always being willing to play along!)
 
So I had an idea one day as I was talking to a client who was struggling with absorbing too many emotions and energy from other people. She said it was difficult for her to be around people because they drain the living s**t out of her (her words, not mine!) 
 
Mary’s a new(er) client so we haven’t had the time together to really dig deep and change her patterning once and for all yet, and I knew I had to give her something quick that she could use the next day since she was going to a work-party with her husband and wanted to be in tip-top “performance” so she could impress his bosses. In other words, she didn’t want to embarrass him by hiding in the bathroom all night or getting overwhelmed, shut down and freaking out by 8pm.
 
Her solution? 
 
SPONGES
 
Like these:
 
unnamed
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I told her to go to her kitchen, pull out a brand new dish sponge, cut a piece out of it small enough to put in her pocket or carry in her purse. 

 
Then I told her that when she goes to the party the next night, every time she feels like she’s starting to get overwhelmed or losing herself in someone’s emotion or absorbing too much energy, she should reach in her pocket and squeeze the sponge.
 
(I told you this is silly!)
 
Silly rabbit, everyone knows it’s a sponge’s job to absorb things.
 
Let’s get this straight: it’s a human’s job to ENJOY, it’s a sponge’s job to ABSORB.
 
So when she squeezes the sponge, she’s basically “activating” it to wake up and do the durn job it was designed for.
 
I won’t fill you in on the other stuff I told her to do since it’s a bit woo-woo, but basically it was a secret magical incantation performed under the light of the full moon to evoke the sponge’s ability to absorb energy too, not just moisture.
 
JUST KIDDING! Though that does sound like fun, we didn’t do that.
 
All she had to do was:
 
1) Put the sponge in her pocket.
 
2) Squeeze the sponge anytime she started absorbing energy she didn’t want (ie: feeling tired, overwhelmed, drained, overstimulated, etc.)
 
3) Remember that it’s the sponge’s job to absorb, not hers. 
 
4) Commit to taking the day (or the next few hours) off from her self-imposed duties as an emotional sponge and allow herself to be a human being instead. 
 
That’s it. Nothing else. 
 
So did this work? Here’s the email I got from Mary the next day:
 
Absorbing emotions
So what do you think, want to give it a try?
 
Consider this our very own unscientific experiment based on nothing else other than a willingness to be silly, enjoy life and stop being sponges. I would try this myself but I don’t absorb any emotions I don’t want anymore. But if you’re looking for that quick fix until you can stop fully absorbing yourself, try this one out. 
 
Will this work for everyone? Definitely not. 
 
Will it work for you? 
 
Worth a try, isn’t it?

An Introvert’s Open Letter to Extroverts: 5 Things You Should Know About Me

introvert letterPhoto Credit: silvia sani via Compfight cc

Dear Extrovert,

First, let me start by thanking you for being in my life. You are the yang to my yin. You get me out more, meeting new people, having new experiences and stretching my comfort zone. You help color my external world with a vast richness that I would never find on my own. In return, hopefully, I show you the vibrant colors that exist inside you. I am an expanding being partly because of you and I am eternally grateful. read more…

Dear Sensitive Soul, You Are Love

sensitive love

Dear Sensitive Soul,

You know who you are. You feel everything so deeply it aches. When you were 10, your dad yelled at you for being too sensitive and you remember the crinkled crease in his forehead and the pain of betrayal as if it were happening now. You remember the throbbing stab of someone you love condemning you for being you and you remember your firm resolve to try to be different because who you were wasn’t good enough, who you were was wrong. read more…

My Soul Told Me I’m Not Good Enough

doggie

I’ve been on overload the past month. And by month, I mean decade. And by decade, I mean lifetime. There’s just too much to get done and a lifetime is simply not enough time to do it all. I keep thinking that one day I’ll knock everything off my To-Do list, materialize my entire vision board and I’ll finally lie in my hammock, dangle a leg lazily over the edge, forget that time exists and watch the sunset – completely guilt free.

I make a point to mostly do this, except somehow the guilt inevitably finds a way to creep in no matter how much I’ve accomplished for the day and told myself I can relax for the rest of the evening. read more…

How To Be Grateful Even When Life Dumps a Load of Crap On You

strong

As I reflect on the things I’m grateful for this holiday season, the usual pops up. I’m grateful for my family, friends, the roof over my head, the food on my plate, my health, running water, blah blah blah.

Are you already bored reading this? I am.

While I truly am grateful for those, in all honesty, I’m a bit bored with this reflection. It’s not that I’m bored with these blessings, it’s that I’m always grateful for them so rehashing them feels a little stagnant and overdone. read more…

The 7 Superpowers of Sensitive Souls

Superhero kid against blue sky background. Girl power concept

I’m a superhero.

Like most superheroes, I’ve learned to keep my powers hidden and quiet. Only those closest to me know. And like most superheroes, I grew up thinking I was fundamentally flawed because of my powers. Of course, before I realized the whole superhero thing, I didn’t consider them “powers” nor did I see them as positive. I considered them weird quirks that isolated me from everyone else and I saw them as a curse.

Having found my way through the darkness of the proverbial innermost cave of the hero’s journey, I now know better. I’ve returned with the elixir and, as Joseph Campbell’s myth would have it, things are not the same. Now I know there are others like me, many of whom are still hiding their powers—even from themselves—and still thinking they’re flawed.

To the sensitive souls, who are still struggling, quivering alone outside the cave wondering if they’re worthy enough to go in, here are seven ways your cursed quirks are more like blessed superpowers. read more…

How to Toughen Up and Turn Your Sensitivity Into a Strength

girl flower“You’re too sensitive,” my boyfriend said last week.

“I know, isn’t it great?” I responded proudly, fully meaning it.

I’ve only recently begun to recognize the sheer strength of my sensitivity. Having been told to “toughen up” my entire life, I used to feel as though there was something fundamentally wrong with me, that I was somehow born flawed and cursed. While everyone else walked around with thick, impenetrable skin, mine was thin and absorbent. Almost everything affected me deeply, from an unkind word to a neglected animal to a war raging in a far off country. read more…

How to Quiet Your Racing Thoughts When You’re Highly Sensitive

Headless buddha

A few years ago I sat in bed at 3 a.m. looking out at a lonely full moon, frustrated and trying unsuccessfully to quiet the swarm of swirling, non-stop thoughts in my head. Recoiling from a fresh breakup, my heart was still healing and all I wanted was some peace and quiet. But my mind had other plans. It took it upon itself to figure out every possible outcome for everything from what to do with our joint business to selling our home to rebuilding my dwindling self-esteem.

If I stop thinking, my mind told me, how am I going to get out of this mess? I’ve got to work it out, come up with some solutions. I leaned over to turn on the lamp and accidentally knocked my Buddha statue off the nightstand with my elbow. When I picked it up, it was headless. The head had broken clean off, detached, like someone took a sword to it and sliced it off in one quick slash. read more…

How To Cope With Grief And Loss When You’re Highly Sensitive

stairs

With the recent passing of one of my favorite authors, Wayne Dyer, memories of the day my father died came flooding back to me.

The morning of March 6, 2013, after they rolled his leukemia-ridden body away on a gurney, I instinctively crawled up into his bed and lay in the exact spot he died, as if filling in the outline of a body from a crime scene. It was my way of holding on, to marinate in the last space he occupied while alive. It felt like a portal between life and death and I sensed his energy lingering, still lying on the bed even though his body had been removed. read more…

How To Use Your Small Hurts As Catalysts For Big Growth

tree doodle embrace pain

I recently posted a personal win in a private Facebook group created for passionate entrepreneurs who have taken a particular, and uber popular, online business course. The group provides support, encouragement and a safe place to ask questions, share your wins, losses and everything in between.

 

Last week I was invited to be a guest writer for Mike Dooley’s TUT and I was so excited, I wanted to share it with my Facebook family and fellow entrepreneurs.  I posted my win in the group, partly to inspire others to keep following their dreams and partly because, well, damn it, I was proud of myself and wanted the pats on the back for a job well done.

 

And then… read more…

When Feeling Like Crap Is More Important Than Feeling Happy

Tree doodle shitty day “Life isn’t all about sunshine and happiness, you know,” said my boyfriend recently on a particularly rough day. He was in the midst of a difficult life circumstance and I was trying to cheer him up.

It’s not? I thought to myself, then what the hell is it all about? In my darkest days decades ago when I was battling depression, I yearned for sunshine and happiness. The fact that I wasn’t happy made me feel worse, and the worse I felt, the further away from happiness I became. It was a never ending cycle. You feel bad, then you feel bad that you feel bad, then you feel even more bad because you feel bad that you feel bad… and on and on. Acceptance of the depression, finally admitting it and allowing myself to experience it instead of fighting it, was the impetus that set me on the path out of it. read more…

Other People’s Judgments of You

treedoodle opinions

Don’t waste a moment of your joy worrying about what other people think of you. When you know who you are, it won’t matter what anyone else thinks. Be you, without apology or explanation. You will never please everyone all the time, not even the ones that matter most, no matter how hard you try. The best you can do is be true to yourself, stand firm in the knowledge of your core and act from the integrity of your innermost self. What others think about you is their business, not yours. Don’t let another person’s judgment of you shake your foundation. read more…

4 Steps to Get From Where You Are to Being Happy Where You Are

treedoodle happiness path

 

I went to a corporate cocktail party a few nights ago, and being the introvert that I am and deathly allergic to small talk, I decided to skip it and get right down to business. My business, not theirs. Happiness.

I quickly discovered that when confronted with the question, “Are you happy?” people generally have the same two answers, “Yes, but…” and “I’ll be happy when…” read more…

Paint Your Life In Full Color

rainbow

If life is a canvas, most of us use only a few colors to paint, often the same few colors over and over and over again. We get a new job or find a new lover or move to a new city thinking that each new time will be different. But the colors we mix on our palette remain the same. And sooner or later, the new job, the new lover, the new location becomes a pale imitation of the life we were trying to repaint.

If you want a different painting, you have to use different colors. Likewise, if you want a vibrant painting, you have to use a variety of vibrant colors.

We all have a rainbow of color inside us waiting to be fully unleashed upon the canvas of life. How many colors are you using?