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Intersections of Privilege and Oppression

I’m preparing to cover a class on working as a cross-cultural clinician for a class specializing in working with individuals who identify as LBGTQ. The biggest challenge in any class like this it so provoke thought in the diversity of students in the room while expanding their capacity for compassion – for their clients, for themselves, and for their fellow students and future clinicians.
The basic rule I always come back to is “Know you don’t know and believe the story of the person in front of you”. I could take time here to explain the concepts of intersectional oppression and privilege – however that’s not my intention. It is enough to know and recognize that each of us lives a life that has many factors that support or hinder us in different environments – the color of our skin, our country of origin, our gender, even our height – most CEO’s are 5’10 or taller – that’s not an accident – it is because of our belief that our leaders are in fact “larger than life”. Height then becomes a contributing factor to being selected as a leader.
Being the Difference does not mean being colorblind, gender blind, ethnicity blind or blind in any way shape or form. It is recognizing that we are in a world that, in its default mode, views those who are different than us, as “other”. Strangers and possible enemies that may take away the resources we view as limited due to both our biology and our socialization that has reinforced the survival messages our biology carries.
Over thousands of years we have created striations of race and class based upon this view of difference and who, in that moment of the world’s time, had the “upper hand” to create a narrative based upon many factors including technology – whether that technology was the ability to harness fire or harness nuclear power.
It is easy to be “blind” the intersections of privilege and oppression that people experience based upon a combination of all the possible factors that create an individual – height, weight, eye color, hair color, country of origin, family of origin, laws that restrict access to privileges, laws that enhance social and economic classes.
What is difficult is to notice all the differences. To notice our own place both in privilege and oppression. To notice our own contributions in privilege and oppression. To consciously choose to use our privilege in a way that provides access to resources for those who have less access. To consciously use any oppression as an avenue towards advocacy not just for ourselves but for everyone.
I am in a place where privileges intersect – straight, white, educated, male, raised in a family system that was free of physical and verbal abuse and in a city that looked mostly like me, talked like me, and supported the development of my own individual identity. It is a rare intersection of privileges that also has enabled me to take in feedback from others to then seek out my own education so that I have been able to support families from other cultures, other spiritual systems, other races, other genders (yes plural), and with other factors including physical disability and chronic medical conditions without pushing my own belief systems by always moving towards the understanding that all of us hold different beliefs that – as long as they do not cause direct harm to another – deserve their own place of co-existence with each other and under the best circumstances enrich and provide innovation in the thought processes of both me and those I encounter.
So all this to say, I encourage you, the next time a thought of judgement comes to you, instead reflect – if I had their life, their experience, their circumstances, who is to say I might not be exactly like they are? What they do, what they say, in their world makes sense. Let me understand their world without giving up mine. Let be reflective and compassionate, and in this way, let my own spirit evolve without trying to control their thoughts, choices, and actions… and in the best of circumstances, allow me to be in a place of service that in fact enhances their ability to access the resources they need as well so that both of us can truly make a positive and lasting impact in the world.

Affirm the Story You Want

Affirm the Story You Want

My father has spent years connecting what is known about anger and the brain as well as how to apply this knowledge to concrete interventions. In his domestic violence groups for perpetrators he has them develop a clear and specific belief that they will use to create change in their lives.

Essentially he has been working with perpetrators of domestic violence to actively generate a new story that they will live in to for the duration of the group.   My father has integrated the information he has learned around brain change and knows that just like a new habit, if the perpetrator has reached a point in their life where the negative outcomes of their previous thought habits have led to enough consequences then these perpetrators will have the passionate motivation they need to make a change. He is well aware that all habit change requires a passionate commitment.   He is also very aware that habit change, from a physiological perspective, takes 13 weeks or 91 days, in which time if the new habit is used on a daily basis the brain will literally change how it’s wired to create new connections enabling the new behavior to now be the brains “go to “ or “default” thus allowing the old behavior, in this case habits of thought that lead to aggression, to dwindle and be replaced by the new pattern. And so for the duration of the group, each week, they review the brain change plan, review the level of commitment to it, and identify what is needed to recommit on a weekly basis.

This is the “brain change” method he utilizes. There may be a few more bells and whistles, but underneath those, this is the foundation for the work.

As my father described it to me I realized that essentially he was creating what I would have called an affirmation.   A story that affirms a new belief enabling someone to let go of a limiting belief, and thus the limiting behaviors connected to that belief that they often have held for years and which have led them to their current life results. However I also got something more important out of it. That affirmations, like goals, require passionate commitment. Creating a new story doesn’t mean writing down a simple statement such as I allow myself to receive, I am joyously receiving money in my pockets every day, I forgive myself, or I am calmly and competently completing my work.

Creating an affirmation, creating a story that affirms, means that I am identifying a small number of core areas I want to enhance, I am writing these down and keeping them near me, and I am reviewing them and visualizing them as if they are already real in my life 3 times a day, and ideally each time I am about to engage in an interaction or experience where those beliefs would come to play.

For me, right now, “I am competently and compassionately adding value to everyone around me”, “I trust myself”, and “I allow myself to receive” are the stories I am choosing to affirm.   Each of these addresses areas of habitual thought – for what is a belief, except a thought we keep thinking over and over again – that UP UNTIL NOW, has limited my capacity to Be the Difference in my life and the lives of others.

If you were to create an affirmation that with passionate commitment would allow you to Be the Difference in your own life what is it and would you be willing to passionately commit to it today?

Tips for Mountain Climbing (To find the cave of the Oracle): Oracles

Oracles:

I did an exercise this week that focused on people noticing the “essence” of an individual. Those qualities that radiate off a person when they walk in the door or when you simply sit down to talk with them. I guided them to identify the qualities for each other and then they were generous enough to identify mine. It was fun to hear “playful”, confirming to hear “warm” and “good Capitan”, what was powerful though was to hear “Oracle”. Let me define this a little though – it wasn’t, as they said that I “gave them answer” it was that I “helped them find the answers within ourselves”.

That is what Oracles have been doing for thousands of years. Oracles tap into the symbols of another person, they unearth the mystical bones within the other person, and “cast” the dice into the air so that the person can see exactly how they need to fall before they hit the ground. Oracles have never been magical – they simply tapped into that place of inner knowing, connecting that place between themselves and the person they are working with.

While that may sound mystical it’s not.

ORACLE

O: Overview – Find the patterns in the story that is in front of you and make them transparent

R: Relationships – Connect the relationships in the pattern and build the understanding of what has set those patterns into motion.

A: Ask/Assist – Ask the other what surfaces as these connections are made, what feedback are they getting from their body, their hearts, their minds, and their spirits – Assist them in hearing the guidance they already have.

C: Clarify – Work with them to clarify what action steps they need to take to follow that guidance. Help them break down “larger” shifts into small actionable steps that will allow them to reach their desired outcomes.

L: Listen – Listen to the barriers that show up in the form of considerations, fears, and real life obstacles. Listen to them with full attention and allow them to find themselves in that listening. To become curious both about their own natures as well as their own possibilities. Listen for their possibilities.

E: Expand – Work with them to expand on what is possible. See what is possible within them and BELIEVE in that possibility even when they don’t.

And then case the bones again….

That is what Oracles have been doing. It’s not mystical. It’s not complex. It is simply Being Present for Possibility and having faith in yourself and the other person to make that possibility real.

So to all the other Oracles out there – – I believe in you. I know what you are capable of. And together we are, yes, we are, Being the Difference.

A challenging week

I was told it was a “Virgo full moon” where old conflicts were supposed to come to head with a potential for resolution. Whether there is some truth to this or it was simply synchronicity, I don’t know, what I am clear on is that situations came to a head which focused on issues that I have “borrowed” from my parents – worries over money and boundaries. Let me side step for a moment before coming back to this –

One concept that many therapists are familiar with from Bowen’s Systems theory is that of Multi-generational transmission of symptoms. What this means is that the areas that our parents struggled in are often the same issues their parents struggled with as well as the same concerns we are now being challenged with in our present lives. The “symptoms” in the form of limiting beliefs, self-sabotaging actions, and the repetition of ineffective choices become “transmitted” from one generation to the next.

Another way of saying this paraphrases from another spiritual belief system “Our sins travel for seven generations”.

I will say that I don’t believe that our “sins” need to be transmitted for the next seven generations – however the transmission of limiting beliefs and thus poor choices and ineffective actions makes sense. We model our lives and what is possible or not possible upon the environments we grew up in and the people who most influenced us. Often when you hear about someone “breaking the pattern” they will attribute it to a coach, teacher, mentor, or other individual that was outside of their family or immediate environment.

It was the simple fact that someone took a stand for them and believed in them more than they did themselves. I want to be clear – for many of us our parents were consistently taking stands for us – however they may still have unconsciously transmitted their beliefs which may prevent us from taking actions that are different than the one’s they took.

Let me step back to where I started this; so for me this week issues of money and boundaries both jumped into my life in the form of a sudden debt that needed to be paid that I was unprepared for and in the supervision of an individual who had violated a basic norm of the therapeutic profession. What I realized in the course of the week was that neither challenge was really that challenging. One was simply a fiscal issue that I can balance within a couple of months and the other – once I let go of the emotional loading from my family – was handled with a simple conversation outlining both the violation of the behavioral norm, the expected future behavior, and with a clear discussion of natural and logical outcomes if the norm were violated again. What initially gave these events “emotional loading” was historical, and to be more specific, someone else’s history, not mine.

As you move forward in your own life I encourage you to consider what issues you are holding that are, in fact, not your issues. What has been transmitted from one generation to the next, not because your parents or grandparents did anything wrong, but simply because as developing human beings we are incredibly impressionable and “imprint” both the things that make these people wonderful as well as the struggles they hold which often have pushed them to become those incredible people – but struggles they themselves would not want us to hold onto in our own lives. Struggles they, in fact, may have chosen to endure, so that we would not have to.

Solution Provider

This morning in asking what to write, the response is simply, write what will provide service to others. This isn’t always easy because it can get confused by my ego with write what will get noticed or write what you can turn into money. However I remember being told by Tiffany Peterson that we are here to provide solutions. That I am a solution provider.

Then my ego wants to go the other way. Do things for free. Do them because money is not important and it changes people. However when that voice comes forth I remember the words of Spiderman, more precisely of his Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.” There is nothing wrong with money – it should change us, just as all responsibilities that we take on in our lives change us – it is up to us to ensure that if money comes into our lives we are respecting the power that it brings.

All things have power. Even toys have power, in fact, toys may have more power than the things of “adults” for toys inspire those who engage them in creating possibilities that are beyond them in their current lives. Toys inspire us to play our values transparently and to shape those values until we ourselves find our niche in the world where we are now a solution provider for others.

There is no requirement to provide solutions for others, whether it’s washing the dishes for our family, assisting others with financial planning, counseling another through suicidal thoughts to create a safety plan, or designing a board game that allows others, temporarily to try on new values and to move themselves outside of their own “box”, or any number of other potential solutions. No, there is no requirement – however when we are not creating solutions, when we are not identifying ways to make the lives of others better we become bored, apathetic, depressed, anxious, angry, and irritable.

It is not so much that we are designed to solve problems, as we are designed to find solutions. So today I encourage you to generate solutions for others and when money comes to you, allow it to, it just means that you are in a position to be able to generate even bigger solutions. Go forth and be a solution provider. Do what you love, follow your passions, and by doing so you will ensure that you are Being the Difference.

Emotions as Feedback

As a therapist one of the most critical tools I have is my own emotional response to other people. Just like everyone else my emotional filters limit the “accuracy” of the information I get ; however as long as I can step back and observe the feelings that I have instead of allowing myself to be controlled by my emotional response they provide amazing opportunities for effective action.

If I feeling frustrated as I work with someone – if I step back and look at the whole picture I may see an individual who has experienced a pattern of learned helplessness and disempowerment. If I find myself getting triggered with anger I might observe that I am working someone who has a tendency to blame others for their results and who has been unwilling to take responsibility for the results of their choices. If I feel tired and exhausted when someone leaves the room when I step back I may notice that the person seems to have a constant need to be affirmed for the smallest of things and is constantly trying to “win” me over to their version of events.

None of these emotional habits that I am observing are necessarily “bad”, they simply reflect where that person is on their journey. If I can maintain this framework instead of attributing gross personal flaws to these individuals then my emotional response helps inform me about what it is I can potentially provide that person as a “catalyst” so that if they choose to move forward they can take effective action.

For the person who has learned that they have little or no power when I start to feel frustrated and helpless myself I can simply recognize that these feelings are not mine – that I am in fact holding the feelings of the other person. With this knowledge I can explore the formation of their limiting beliefs and assist them in identifying the smallest actions they can take to begin the process of recognizing the power and influence they have over their own lives.

If I am triggered with anger I can step back and hold my boundaries clear without the expression of anger. Instead of becoming a bull charging head to head with another bull I can simply observe with the other person “These are your results. Here are some options for different results – however choosing to blame me or others in this situation will result in the same outcome.” And if that person continues to engage in behavior that does not reflect integrity – I can step away from the relationship altogether – not in judgment – but in simple recognition that this particular individual does not offer what I need in an ongoing relationship. I

If I find myself exhausted each time the other person leaves the room, I can redirect that person to engage in processes where they can see their own worth and value. I can clearly validate what I see regarding their potential while still being clear that I won’t forfeit other relationships or allow that person to monopolize my time and attention so that they can have their sense of self validated.

Our feelings are not always “accurate”; however they are always one of our best sources of information about our interactions with others and ourselves. When we use our feelings as feedback and let them inform our actions – instead of triggering reactions – we have amazing power to positively influence others, set clear boundaries (which when done well also promotes growth in the other person), and appropriately validate and connect us to opportunities where we can thrive.

In therapy this process would be two processes – transference and counter-transference – however in life it is simply the ability to use our emotions as they were intended – to inform ourselves about what is happening in our environment so that we can make the best choices possible – to enhance both our lives and the lives of others. When we integrate our heart’s ability to feel, with our head’s ability to think, our voice and our actions become powerful agents for Being the Difference.

Something to Chew On: Fundamental Attribution Error vs. Mutual Growth Environment

The Fundamental Attribution Error vs. Mutual Growth Environment:
When we make mistakes or errors we tend to attribute our failure to circumstances. Example: I was late because there was traffic.
When others make mistakes or errors we tend to attribute their failures to character flaws. Example: They were late because they are poor planners.
The challenge is that in both cases we lose the power to influence the outcomes. If we rely too heavily on circumstances to explain our failures we may fall into habits of justification. When we rely too heavily on the attribution of failures of others to character flaws we stop recognizing our own ability to practice assertive communication to influence the course of events i.e. though positive and clear statements of desired change and/or observation to the other of the cost of continuing to engage in their current pattern of behavior.
In truth, while from the typical perspective these two areas – failure due to circumstance or failure due to “character flaws” could be argued to account for 99% of all failures (the last 1% being the odd circumstance that truly was unavoidable such as a natural disaster ) I might argue for an atypical perspective.
Most failures simply come from habit. Habit which develops from the ongoing interaction of external and internal factors. In schools studies have shown that students with historically low grades can show substantial improvement when they are provided with material that shows them that their ability to do well is not due to their circumstances or inherent character flaws, but in their ability to develop a mindset that their mind is a muscle. Once this concept was learned and integrated, students with previously poor performance ignored the circumstances they had previously used to justify poor performance and stepped away from the stories others had been providing them that they were “lazy” or “bad” and showed an ability to do well and engage in new habits that provided positive results.
The challenge is that while we may tend to use circumstances to justify results, those circumstances are often based upon assessing those around us has having character flaws that we can not change. We engage in a double process of attributing the failure of others to blame them for our circumstances. This is Lose/Lose thinking – for us!
When we simply acknowledge our own failures as a combination of habits that don’t work or that we are “in the middle of a learning process” where failure in the middle is the normal path to developing mastery and combine this with the idea that those around us are also dealing with their own combination of habits and at different places in their learning process we step into a world where we can interact powerfully with other to both influence the learning of others, be influenced by what others have learned and in which positive change is the hallmark of our daily life.
So… we can continue to engage in justifying our failures with our circumstances, blaming others for their character flaws and continue to get the same results which may be comfortable but not what we really want, or we can start to see others and ourselves has having immense potential with physical muscles, emotional muscles, mind muscles, and spirit muscles with those around us being our training partners.
It’s a different lens that doesn’t allow for a “fundamental attribution error” but instead focuses on the creation of a Mutual Growth Environment. It’s a lens that encourages us to Be the Difference, and to encourage others in their journey to Be the Difference as well.

P.S. The fundamental attribution, in my experience, is often magnified in close personal relationships or in work relationships between levels – i.e. provider to supervisor or supervisor to provider. It is only through the consistent application of a Mutual Growth Environment lens that these differences don’t turn into “blaming patterns”.

Opportunities come to those who are already living them

The last few weeks have been interesting. I have had a couple of the therapists I supervise approach me with the question “what did you do after you got licensed”. What I found interesting about the question is that now that they are licensed or getting close to it they believe there is something that will change. This is of course the mistake that most of us make from time to time. While working towards one goal or waiting for one event to happen we forget that it is never one event that leads us to living the life we want. Yes, getting licensed, getting a degree, a promotion, married, or whatever event/goal you are waiting for will provide new opportunities – but those opportunities will be there in proportion to the things you have been doing while you have been waiting.

While I was working to get licensed I took creative writing classes with a 10 minute performance on stage at the end of it and regularly went to open mics. I also developed my confidence through Capoeira classes. And professionally, without prompting I began to provide community workshops on mental health and interventions for children with disruptive behavior as outreach for my organization. As a result even before I got my license my director at the time created a position for me that had not previously existed.

Once I got licensed I began to write books, do interactive story-telling workshops, and then began doing mastermind groups for my friends. From one of those mastermind groups I developed a connection that provided me opportunities to do workshops over the next three years in Florida, New Jersey, Virginia, California, and North Carolina.

But it wasn’t about being licensed. It was always about doing the things that I loved to do that also provided solutions for the people around me – and taking action on it even when I’m tired. So if you are reading this I want to encourage you to live the life you want five years from now. Don’t wait. Opportunities to do the things you love come to the people who are already doing them. I have spent years providing free workshops – and the result has been that now when I do workshops I have opportunities to get paid up to $2000 a day. In the grand scheme of workshops, this isn’t that much, but it’s $2,000 dollars more for me doing something I love to do than I was getting paid 10 years ago when I started doing the workshops for free. The best part about it is that I still would the workshops I do for free. Sometimes I still do. And when I do, I know that opportunities will continue to show up – because I’m already living the life I want in five years. Maybe only 10% of the time, but I know that time will only increase as I keep my attention on building the story I want to live into.

What story do you want to live into?

Be the difference for your own life and start living it right now.

Radical Forgiveness and Gratitude Forgiveness: Bowling Balls and Dandelion Seeds

Once upon a time, my father lent me two books by Clark Moustakas and Beverly Flannagins – Forgiving the Unforgivable. Without going into the details of the reasons for that occurrence I believe this was where I began to understand the importance of interaction between my inner world and my interactions with others, something that solidified many years later as I read Jack Canfield’s Success Principles.

Before this time – when I perceived potential injury in myself or another I sought to immediately take reparative action. Often when it was inappropriate to do so.

Hmm…. Let me start over… you see forgiveness is difficult for me to talk about because it is not something that can be broken down into “easy steps”, it’s a process, and it requires a passionate desire to find peace in your own heart – whether or not the other person also finds peace is up to them – however there is also actions that you as an individual must take in interaction with others in order for you to find that peace. Forgiveness is both an internal process and one that has importance in the interaction with those you believe have injured you.

The Belief of Injury: I say the belief for when it comes to emotional injury it requires that we consent to be injured. For us to suffer emotional injury from another person’s actions or statements or even just their “being” (I will discuss this later) we must allow the other person’s actions or statements to take on “emotional weight”. If you throw a dandelion seed at me it is unlikely to injure me. If you throw a bowling ball it’s going to hurt. When someone takes an action or speaks a word that injures us – the injury takes on the “emotional weight” we give it. If the person is closer to us, has more authority, or has purposely or inadvertently stepped into one of our “sensitive” zones it is more likely that we will give their action or words greater emotional weight. However if we step away from what and who is saying it the truth is that all that is happening is that their brains are directing their vocal chords to create sounds that we then attribute meaning to. That’s it. The meaning we give it creates the Belief of Injury.

Feedback vs. Injury: “How can I not feel injured?” The easiest way is to change the information you are giving it into “feedback”. Feedback is simply information about how the other person is interpreting or attributing qualities to us. Feedback, like injury, has “emotional weight”. We can receive the feedback and ignore it, in which case if there is in fact a “problem” the other person involved is likely to increase their attempts to add further “emotional weight” possibly with stronger words, greater action, or purposeful withdrawal and silence, or we can respond to the feedback as important information about the quality of our interactions with the other person.

Shifting the Load: What many people do when emotional weight enters their lives is they immediately try to “shift the load”. Something occurs and rather than look at how they contributed to the current situation they do their best to put the load on someone else to bear. The challenge is the attempt to “shift weight” (otherwise known as blaming, complaining, shaming, justifying) rarely actually “lightens the load. Overtime a pattern of “Load Shifting” actually creates intense injury and isolation for those involved.
The Story of Two Sisters: Many years ago two sisters began a process of Load Shifting with each other. They grew up in an environment that was largely healthy – however during their formative years their was substantial substance abuse. One sister adopted a “bully” mindset with the other, and the other, being young, accepted herself as the “victim”. Over time the younger sister began to develop a strong sense of self and during a moment of reconciliation the “older sister” stated “It’s almost like we are friends” to which the younger sister replied “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”. The older sister was floored with hurt and pain. She tried to Load Shift by complaining to her parents. She tried to load shift by justifying to their other sibling. She tried to Load Shift by blaming the other sister as stating something that was “horrible”. However every attempt at load shifting simply increased the weight of the load making her feel more and more isolated.

Recycling the Load: Emotions are renewable resources – and they are resources. Anger, Sadness, Loneliness, Boredom, Joy, all of these things are simply ways to give us information about our environment (including people) and to help guide us towards effective action. In the above example if the older sister, instead of taking offense, were to ask “What have I done to contribute to my sister’s belief that I am the enemy?” the “Emotional Load” start to lighten as excess emotional weight becomes “recycled and processed” to provide an opening for new actions that can immediately shift even long standing grudges. Similarly the younger sister could also ask themselves a question that might change things such as “In what ways have added emotional weight to the interactions I have with my sister?”
Each individual is fully responsible for the quality of their interactions.

A Belief about Forgiveness which adds emotional weight: Those who take on the work of forgiveness have to take on a basic mistaken belief. That the other person is responsible for their emotions and that the other person should either 1) take reparative action or 2) the other person should respond to their attempts at reparative action with their own reparative actions.

Lightening the Load – The Act of Forgiveness: The interaction of the person with their environment often requires action. The Act of Forgiveness is apologizing first when you are convinced you have done nothing wrong but you can see that an action you have take has left the other carrying substantial emotional weight and in this action the Act of Forgiveness requires us to understand that it is normal and ok if the other person does not respond either now or in the future with their own attempts to lift emotional weight off of our shoulders (if we have done the act with full authenticity and integrity, while this would be a “nice result” the majority of the weight should be lifted in our own actions).

Radical Forgiveness: Colin Tipping wrote a book called “Radical Forgiveness”. He introduced the concept that there is “nothing to forgive”. This goes back to an idea I referenced earlier that I actually got from Wayne Dyer, that we must “Consent to be injured” . For those who really embrace the path of forgiveness there is an understanding that EVERYONE ALL THE TIME IS DOING THE BEST THEY CAN WITH THEIR CURRENT SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE, AND ABILITIES. It is an understanding that there is a distinct possibility that if I had been born into a family and I experienced the exact same things that other person had experienced and I had the same biology I too, would be taking actions as they are taking.

Gratitude Forgiveness: It has been said that when the student is ready the teacher appears. What is often not understood is that every person that has shown up in your life is a teacher. They may simply be teaching things we would rather ignore. However in the belief of Gratitude Forgiveness – we are grateful when we have the experience of feeling emotional weight in our life. In Gratitude Forgiveness we recognize that wherever we experience emotional weight, we are still growing and learning to navigate as we develop our minds, hearts, and spirits.

A Filter of Gratitude Forgiveness: Many of you will be spending time with family over the next few days. Carolyn Myss in Sacred Contracts talks about the idea that maybe we do choose our family. It is in intriguing concept. The idea that we purposely choose people who both add and lighten the emotional weight we feel before we are even born. Whether or not I believe this “as a fact” is less important to me as an “optional filter” that enables me to navigate even previously seen “complex family relationships”. With this filter I can simply respond to all the actions and statements of my family that would create “emotional weight” and notice if the weight is due to my past interactions with them or if it is due to emotional weight they are carrying due to other life time experiences.

Acting on Gratitude Forgiveness: If the emotional weight is due to the interactions I have had with them in the past I can recognize, and if appropriate, acknowledge/apologize for the emotional weight I have helped load them up with. If it is emotional weight they are attempting to “load shift” I can acknowledge the emotional weight is there without attempting take any of the burden.

The Development of Gratitude Forgiveness: Ultimately the development of Gratitude Forgiveness is in simply being grateful for the strength, compassion, kindness, or other positive qualities you have developed/are developing from the people that your perceive as adding emotional weight to your life and then allowing yourself to let the weight slowly decrease from the bowling ball sitting on your chest to the dandelion seed floating gracefully away from you – the seed of hope and inspiration you plant in another through your acts of forgiveness.

As you spend time with your families and friends over the next few days I encourage you to view them with compassion and let a few dandelion seeds fly into the wind.

Tips for Mountain Climbing: 10% Time

In financial circles it is often said that the best way to obtain wealth is to pay yourself first. This means that at a minimum 10% of all cash you earn is “yours to keep”. This means taking the first 10% and putting it first into savings; and then into investments. That 10% is never touched and over time not only does it grow – but as that money is placed in investments – the money you earn through those investments also grows.

I am a big believer that this also applies to our emotional and intellectual wealth. Many of us are very service oriented or driven by hard work ethics. This allows us to obtain phenomenal short term results in our work – but can leave use impoverished in our personal lives.

This is where 10% time comes in. For every 10 hours I commit to the growth of others, I commit one hour to my own growth. That hour of growth comes in the form of engaging in an activity that feeds me – this can be painting, exercising, reading a book that inspires me or expands my learning, it can be working on a special project, or even some one and one time with my loved one that is special in one form or another – but whatever it is – I know that really it’s “me” time – time spent doing things that energize and re-vitalize me.

I want to be clear. This is not me coming home after working a 12 hour day and watching Netflix. While this may satisfy the part of me that wants to “veg out” and I have no trouble doing that – it is not “me time.” It doesn’t grow me physically, emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually. Me time, ideally develops me in at least 2 of these areas. Walking on a treadmill is not me time. Going for a long walk or a run by a lake is. Reading an article I have to read for work is not me time. Going to the coffee shop with four books that I’m reading and reading a chapter from each and developing connections between them excites me mentally and spiritually and absolutely is me time. Ultimately – I know if I am engaging in 10% time because the time begins to pass quickly as you lose yourself in the activity.

10% time is critical to our ongoing well being. “Joshua!” I can hear someone saying now “I sometimes work 60 or more hours a week and what you are saying is the more I work the more time I have to commit to 10% time! How does that work?

It doesn’t, which is the point. if you are working 60 hours or more and 10% time is not built in you may find it “doesn’t work”. You are “too busy” and “too tired” to build in your 10% time it is even more important that you build 10% time in because it is likely that your life is out of balance in one or more areas – and the only way to build balance and joy back into your life is through that active commitment to 10% time.

As you commit to the 10% time, like money, you may find that your 10% time grows. You may even find that the time you used to spend working has slowly been transforming into doing things you love. There are many people who actually make a living devoting their time and energy exclusively to those things that feed them. To “follow your joy” though, you have to first commit to it. And as you invest, your wealth will grow. So pay yourself in time first. Give yourself your 10%.
vs….

Joshua