Over the weekend, I was in Los Angeles attending the Mindvalley Reunion. If you don't know who or what Mindvalley is, it is a global education company focused on transformation and personal development for body, mind, and spirit. The reunion is essentially a 3 day conference where a thousand or so people come together to listen to speakers, attend workshops, and be inspired.
While I was there I met people whom I had met in previous years, as well as people that I have met virtually through some of Mindvalley's various courses.
Shortly after the reunion, one of the people that I met shot a video about her experience and tagged me in the comments so that I would be sure to see it. I am not sure how you feel about being tagged, but unless I am in the picture, I don't love it.
I replied to the person saying that it was nice to meet them and then asked that they not tag me in the future. I thought it was relatively harmless.
This morning, I woke up to a private FB message from the woman using the words "unkind" and "inappropriate."
The first questions to pop into my mind were: "Huh? Where did that come from?", followed by, "How dare she call me unkind and inappropriate! What a b**ch!"
Having spent too many years NOT SPEAKING MY TRUTH, I sent her a message back letting her know that I appreciated her for sharing her preferences with me, but that I DID NOT appreciate her insinuating that I was unkind and inappropriate, as I had not made any judgments or criticisms of her. I then invited her to think about what her judgments of me really meant about her.
A few hours later, after talking to my power partner, I realized just how high I was sitting on my horse.
One of the speakers at the conference talked about how there is no right or wrong, yet there I was sitting squarely in my righteousness, judging her for having judged me in the first place.
I was clearly right and she was clearly wrong, right?
Not so much.
I sent her the following message back:
Hey again...in the aftermath of my message back to you I could hear my own righteousness and judgement of you. UGH! What a cluster I have found myself in. It brings me back to what Dr. Shefali said about there not be a right or wrong. Since getting your message I have been making you wrong for judging me, which is a judgement in itself. If we take out right/wrong, there are preferences. There is what I like and what I don't like. There is what you like and what you don't like. I don't like being tagged without being asked first. I don't like being told I am unkind and inappropriate. You don't like that I asked you not to tag me in a public space. Anything else you don't like about my behavior? I am open to hearing it.
This whole encounter is a reminder that communication has many nuances and that no matter how much training I have done, or how many books I have read, I am still a human being with buttons that people will push, and which I will then react or respond to. Sometimes I suck at communicating. (Which is another version of "bad"...I know.)
Ever been in a similar situation?
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
As many of you probably know, I host a global book circle for women, where I support them to get the most out of the personal growth reading, and truly bring the book (and it’s ideas) to LIFE.
As with most “new” endeavors in life, it takes time to get adjusted to the nuances and find harmony.
When I started the book circle, I organized it into two groups--one free and one paid. There was a monthly fee to be part of the paid group, and it gave you certain “premium” features that others did not have. This phenomenon is probably familiar to many of you.
After running the two groups simultaneously for several months, I felt a sense of unease. I would have a flash of an idea to share, and then wonder, “Well, which group gets it? Is this for the paid members, or the free ones?” As this continued, I realized that the two groups weren’t working for me. It felt out of alignment.
So I decided to try a social experiment. What if I combined the two groups, and offered all the previously “premium” features to everyone, and asked for contributions? Would people contribute? Would people reward me financially for the time, effort and expertise that I was offering them? Could I be the “medicine woman” that offers her value to others, and is rewarded with a place to live and food to eat?
Can you guess how it turned out?
My two weeks off over the holidays gave me the opportunity to reflect on the efficacy of this experiment, especially as I have felt my sense of bitterness grow, and my original passion for sharing decline. Each time I reminded the ladies in the group about the opportunity to contribute, and each time they didn’t, I felt lower and lower. I felt less inclined to shoot a video, less inclined to share another insight, less inclined to show up.
And yet this has NOTHING to do with the amazing women in my circle. They are not, and were not the cause of my bitterness, or the decline in my passion. All of that resides in me.
Hidden underneath was an undeclared expectation that people would shower me with euros.
Hidden underneath was my own sense of self-worth.
Hidden underneath was my questionable boundaries.
Hidden underneath were my limiting beliefs.
I cannot blame these women for enjoying something for free (I do the same thing).
I cannot blame these women if they don’t see or financially honor my value.
I cannot blame these women for my decision to give, give, and give some more.
I cannot blame these women for my own beliefs and their hold on me.
It is my responsibility to rectify this situation, not theirs.
It is my responsibility value my time, effort and expertise by CHARGING money.
It is my responsibility to set and enforce boundaries.
It is my responsibility work through my own limiting beliefs.
Now, it has been rectified.
I did not go back to two groups, but I am going back to charging for those “premium” features, and I feel so much lighter and freer. The bitterness has dropped away, and the passion has reignited.
I even got a note from one of the members saying, “So glad you’re asking for money again. It was on my heart and fingertips to tell you that sooner. It felt like you weren’t valuing your services. And I had much less impetus to show up.”
Have you ever engaged in sex with someone when you weren’t sure about your safety, or if you might walk way with something — disease, pregnancy, hurt feelings, etc. — you didn’t want? Don’t worry, I am not expecting a reply.
Here’s another question:
Have you ever engaged in a conversation with someone when you were sure about your safety, or if you might walk away with something you didn’t want?
Here’s the thing:
We are more likely to use a safety mechanism to protect ourselves from the risks of sex than to use a safety mechanisms to protect us from the risks of conversation. Yet, most of us engage in conversations way more often than we engage in sex… and we aren’t protecting ourselves!
That is why I want to introduce you to the concept of conversational condoms.
Too often we walk away from conversations with something we don’t want, making a conversational condom a great antidote. It is a way to protect ourselves and the other person from the roller coaster of emotions and judgments that can occur when engaged in conversation, even when you hadn’t planned for them to be risky.
It’s a way to limit the spread of dis-ease that can occur when people become reactive to their feelings.
It’s a container (if you will) for the conversation so that unnecessary messes don’t need to be cleaned up later.
So what exactly does it look like?
Well, for every person it will look different. There are times when you won’t need one, and other times when you will. There are times when you hadn’t planned to need one, and you might end up pulling it out of your pocket. It’s always good to be prepared.
Step One: Spend time alone, bringing awareness to what feels good for you and what doesn’t. What areas of your emotional body are off limits? What areas are highly sensitive?
Step Two: Write down 2-3 agreements for how you want to be treated and talked to. These agreements will act as the container or conversational condom. Some examples might be: 1) We agree to speak our truth with kindness and grace. 2) We agree to ask questions when we don’t understand, or 3) We agree to keep use our voices and bodies to create a pleasurable experience for everyone.
Step Three: When engaged in a potentially unsafe conversation, take out your conversational condom, and present it to your conversation partner. If they are unfamiliar with its use, share what it is, why it is needed, and then reveal what your condom is composed of. When finished, ask your conversational partner if he or she agrees to using it.
Step Four: As you converse with your partner, pay attention to the condom, knowing that it can break at any time. You may need to reminder your partner that it is in place, and you may even need to pull outand try again another time.
As I mentioned above, there may be times when you are already engaged in a conversation, and you notice yourself tensing up and feeling unsafe. This is a great opportunity to pull a conversational condom out of your pocket, and start at step three or four.
If you have any questions about how to personalize your conversational condom in order to ensure the highest level of safety, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
When I was 35, my professional world imploded. For some of my clients, it was their relationship that imploded. While for still others, there was no implosion of career or relationship, but a serious earthquake, that shook the foundation and created serious cracks.
If I look back logically, the origin of my disastrous relationship with my former boss, would have started when I was first transferred. But it didn’t. If my clients look back logically on their own situations, they might see an infidelity discovered, a lie uncovered, a business decision gone bad, a pink-slip passed out, etc. But that isn’t the true origin either.
To find the true origin, we need to do a little time traveling.
For me, and for most of my clients (and probably for you too) it was an event that happened between the ages of 3 and 7. Together, we travel back in time, to at that event from the outside, as an observer, rather than as a participant. More specifically, as an OMNISCIENT observer who knows the thoughts, feelings, and decisions of all the participants.
As the time travel facilitator, I focus on the DECISIONS made by that little boy or little girl, because it is that decision, or collection of decisions that is the true origin of the current conflict. It is that decision that has been operating in the background for 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years, like the operating system of your GPS system. It is that decision that becomes the programmers code, until we become conscious enough, or fall on our face hard enough.
I will not lie and say that it is an easy process because it is not, but it is a healing one, because it allows us the awareness we need to rewrite the code and reset the GPS.
Sometimes when are are back there, hovering around observing, we come down to “earth” and step into forgiveness. We step into forgiveness by sending love and compassion to the people involved, especially to that little boy or little girl. We give hugs and reassurance, and paint a bright picture for what the future can and will look like.
After coming back to the present, we can step into the fun part, where we time travel forward, and meet our future self. We see where she lives, what she eats, what she does, and what she says. The words, the guidance, the cheerleading, and the love she shares is immensely powerful and therapeutic after the harshness of the time travel backwards.
Yet, I believe that both are needed, as they work in tandem. As we seek to rewrite the faulty GPS programing from our past, we can insert the new GPS programming given to us by our future self.
Back and forth we go.
Back and forth I go, honoring my past and creating my future, while living in the present.
Just as we eat to nourish our bodies everyday, I am coming to believe time-travel would nourish our souls everyday.
P.S. If you have any interest in time-traveling with me, please reach out.
Courage. Compassion. Connection.
At the age of 21, with my college diploma in hand, a plane ticket to Europe, and $10,000 of my hard-earned savings, I set off to travel the world. First stop--Europe.
A few weeks into my trip, I was in Berlin with a friend from high school who had been studying in Barcelona. I was thoroughly enjoying my trip and my freedom. Yet, this particular night was different.
I was flirting, laughing, telling travel stories, and LOVING the attention it brought me from the guys. There was one particular guy who seemed to appreciate me more than others, and at some point I ended up sitting on his lap. It was all in good fun, and as the fun dwindled we said our good-nights and made our way to our respective beds in the shared room of the youth hostel.
At some point in the night, I awakened to see that same guy now sitting on the edge of my bed staring at me. The bed was shaking. I knew what was happening, yet I pretended I didn’t and rolled over.
The next morning I woke up covered in his dried semen.
He was gone.
As I washed away the filth and disgust, I kept saying to myself, “At least it’s only ON me, and not IN me.” I kept wondering if it was my fault. Had I flirted too much? Had I led him on? Had I done something wrong?
Over time the memory faded and I decided it was “no big deal.”
In the wake of the #metoo movement, and the recent testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, I realize that it is a BIG DEAL. I much BIGGER DEAL than I could have imagined at the age of 21.
I truly believe that there is a gift wrapped in even the roughest sandpaper, and this sandpaper is indeed rough. Voice after voice after voice of women, men, girls, and boys have come to the forefront showing how big of a deal it really is. That to me, is a gift.
Because this isn’t simply a sex problem.
Nor is it a political problem.
Nor is it an economic problem.
Nor is it a race problem.
Nor is it a religious problem.
IT’S A HUMANITARIAN PROBLEM--A COLLECTIVE ONE.
One that goes back centuries. One in which people fail to treat other people as people, and instead use or abuse them for their own pleasure or gain--whether it be sexual, economic, or otherwise. We can see it throughout history, and we continue to see it today, around the world, and behind closed doors.
My fear, though, is that the continued finger-pointing, blaming, and shaming, will only prolong the problem because the more divided we become, the more difficult it will be to create a different future.
As far as I am concerned, we are all responsible and we all have a responsibility.
This isn’t an us/them situation. This is a WE SITUATION, and the sooner we can see each other as ONE, rather than divergent individuals, with divergent interests, the sooner we can put an end to this disgusting habit of treating people like they don’t matter.
If you have no idea how you could possibly be responsible, when you didn’t do anything, here are some ideas:
>> You are responsible for your WORDS including the ones you may never speak.
>> You are responsible for your INTENTION and the WHY behind your actions.
>> You are responsible for your INTEGRITY and the values you choose to live by.
>> You are responsible for your JUDGMENTS and the disconnections they create.
>> You are responsible for your LISTENING and whether you seek to truly understand.
>> You are responsible for your HEART and any love or hate that spurns from it.
>> You are responsible for your COURAGE and whether you choose comfort instead.
Twenty years ago, I didn't do anything. I lay in a hostel bed, wide awake, and silent while some crude young man masturbated all over me. I have no idea if he went on to do it again to other women in other youth hostels, or whether he chose to take it a step further. I may never know.
What I do know is that I am ready to take responsibility for my part in this collective mess.
Will you join me?
Courage. Compassion. Connection.