Living in Survival Mode and Being Afraid to Leave It Behind

Survival mode is a state of mind that we enter when we feel threatened or unsafe. It’s a natural response to danger, and it can help us to stay alive in the short-term. However, if we stay in survival mode for too long, it can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health.

As a child, I lived in survival mode 24/7, from the moment I learned that life couldn’t be trusted, adults couldn’t be trusted, no one could be trusted. Life was pain and I either adapted or I wouldn’t live for long, and pain was the only trustworthy thing I knew. The effect this had on me was catastrophic. I was highly sensitive born to a family that was all jagged edges and hateful words.

When we’re in survival mode, our bodies release stress hormones that can make us feel anxious, irritable, and exhausted. We may also have trouble sleeping, concentrating, and making decisions. In the long term, chronic stress can lead to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and depression. A person living in survival mode full-time becomes hypersensitive to criticism, keeps relationships at a surface level, avoids confrontation, grows increasingly defensive, and requires more downtime than someone not living with fight-or-flight thinking. Survival mode is our body’s way of trying to protect us from the trauma that surrounds us. Every person experiences it in their own way.

I was geared to help myself. I don’t know if it was the constant trauma, but I launched myself into survival mode early on, before I even had the vocabulary for it, and knew if I didn’t do something to counteract it sooner rather than later, I might never recover. So I entered talk therapy at the age of 11, after suffering what the hospital called a “nervous breakdown.” It was quite likely my first panic attack, which would be my diagnosis again and again, picking up along the way a diagnosis of complex PTSD.

Leaving survival mode can be a challenge, especially if we’re afraid of what might happen if we do. We may worry that we won’t be able to cope with the challenges of life, or that we’ll be in danger if we let our guard down. However, it’s important to remember that survival mode is not a sustainable way to live.

It’s not a sustainable way to live. Your body overdoses on adrenalin, norepinephrine, and cortisol, which triggers a cascade of physiological responses, including increased body temperature, increased heart rate, blood pressure, and energy expenditure. Those of us who live or have lived in this mode know how exhausted it makes us. Constantly on guard, defenses always up. Running, running, always running. Our overworked brains might tell us that we’re running toward something, but we’re not. We’re running away. And we continue to run for as long as survival mode is allowed to control us. My thought about healing this way of life was fear. I was afraid not to be in survival mode because then I wouldn’t have to fight anymore. Or run. And then what? What would take its place?

If you’re struggling to leave survival mode, there are a few things you can do to help yourself:

  • Identify the stressors in your life. The first step to leaving survival mode is to identify the things that are causing you stress. Once you know what’s causing you stress, you can start to develop strategies for coping with it.
  • Make time for self-care. Self-care is essential for reducing stress and improving your overall health. Make sure to take time for activities that you enjoy and that help you to relax. This could include spending time in nature, reading, listening to music, or getting a massage.
  • Seek support from others. Talking to someone you trust about what you’re going through can be helpful. A therapist or counselor can also provide support and guidance.

Leaving survival mode is not easy, but it is possible. With time and effort, you can learn to manage stress and live a more fulfilling life.

Here are some additional tips for leaving survival mode:

  • Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. When you’re feeling stressed, take a few minutes to focus on your breath or your surroundings. This can help to calm your mind and body.
  • Get enough sleep. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body is more likely to release stress hormones. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Eating healthy foods can help to improve your mood and energy levels. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive caffeine.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve your overall health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

If you’re struggling to leave survival mode on your own, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can provide support and guidance as you work to overcome the challenges you’re facing.thumb_upthumb_downuploadGoogle itmore_vert


Trauma can have a profound impact on the brain, affecting how we think, feel, and behave. One of the ways that trauma can impact the brain is by changing our assumptions about the world.

Before trauma, we may have had a number of assumptions about the world that helped us to feel safe and secure. For example, we may have assumed that the world is a safe place, that people are generally kind and trustworthy, and that we are in control of our own lives.

However, after trauma, these assumptions may be shattered. We may come to believe that the world is a dangerous place, that people are not to be trusted, and that we are helpless and at the mercy of others.

These changes in assumptions can have a profound impact on our lives. They can make it difficult to trust others, to feel safe in the world, and to have a sense of hope for the future.

If you have experienced trauma, it is important to be aware of how trauma can impact your assumptions about the world. It is also important to remember that these assumptions are not necessarily true. With time and healing, it is possible to rebuild your assumptions and create a new sense of safety and security in your life.

Here are some tips for rebuilding your assumptions after trauma:

  • Challenge your negative beliefs. When you have a negative thought about yourself, the world, or other people, ask yourself if there is any evidence to support it. Is it possible that your thought is based on your trauma experience and not reality?
  • Focus on the positive. When you are feeling overwhelmed by negative thoughts, try to focus on the positive things in your life. What are you grateful for? What are your strengths? What are the good things that have happened to you recently?
  • Connect with others. Trauma can make you feel isolated and alone. It is important to connect with others who have also experienced trauma. This can help you to feel less alone and to learn from others who have successfully healed from trauma.
  • Seek professional help. If you are struggling to rebuild your assumptions after trauma, it is important to seek professional help. A therapist can help you to understand your trauma experience and to develop new, more positive assumptions about yourself, the world, and other people.


Ever noticed someone rushing to get ahead of traffic? Swerving from one lane to another. Cutting in. Cutting out. Each time, an accident ready to happen.

“One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” Chinese Proverb

At the next stoplight, the angry driver is stuck next to you — waiting for the green light, not having gotten ahead. You can see the blood boiling and hear the horn honking because the person in front of the demanding driver could have made the light. You see the intense slamming of the steering wheel and fierce yelling through the front windshield. Yikes!

Ever noticed hints of this behavior in yourself?

Our Toxic Culture Of Instant-Gratification

One could say, living in a culture where things happen NOW breeds impatience.

Who doesn’t like the immediacy of 1) wanting something & 2) having it fulfilled in the blink of an eye? Instant downloads, purchases with one click, same-day delivery, instant messaging, you name it we got it.

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So when the internet doesn’t connect at warp speed, we have to wait for a treadmill at the gym, or the parking meter isn’t taking our credit card — it can feel unbearable!

In fact, we may lose our composure, perspective, awareness of options and belief that we can handle it without blowing up. Boom!

The Physiological Effects Of Impatience

When we are impatient, the body releases the stress hormone cortisol. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that “stress hormones stimulate platelets, making them more likely to clot in arteries already narrowed by heart disease, a process that can result in a heart attack. These hormones also cause the body’s fat cells to release fat into the bloodstream.”

Like the angry driver, we might find ourselves in “hurry up and wait” mode. Been there? When dissatisfaction with the current moment is so intense? We lose sight of what might be possible to explore or enjoy HERE & NOW because we are frustrated with the fact we aren’t THERE yet.

5 Ways to Cultivate Patience

Like most everything, we develop patience through practice. We can learn a different way to relate to ourselves, others and our lives. And yes, it is possible for anyone and everyone. Below are some ideas:

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1) Noticing times when you lost your patience and what it felt like

Do commonalities exist in these instances? Is it at the end of the day, in certain situations, or when we feel impatient or frustrated with ourselves? By raising awareness to our own triggers we can prepare better for them. Maybe today isn’t the day to have a particular conversation.

As we become aware of the felt-sense of losing patience, we can mindfully choose ways to soothe the irritation.

2) Use the STOP practice

This mindfulness practice can be used to help strengthen patience before challenging situations arise or when we’re in the midst of the emotional hijack. It’s easy to remember:

S: Stop what we’re doing or maybe saying to take a deliberate pause.

T: Take a mindful breath or several mindful breaths. Narrowing the focus of attention to what the breath feels like as it moves in and out of the body. 

P:  Proceed. Having taken the opportunity check-in, choosing what the wisest way to proceed. What next step is best to take, or not to take with the longer term in mind. If the body is still highly activated, maybe choosing to do the STOP practice again.

3)  Practicing being patient with the smaller stuff.

Of course, the more frequently we practice patience, the more it will develop. Picking 3 – 5 situations a day to intentionally be patient — letting someone merge into traffic, go ahead in the grocery store line, or holding the door for someone to enter the building first. These mindful choices will build on each other and further develop a kinder, more flexible approach.

4) Taking a break by moving and shifting focus.

Sometimes, the best approach might be to step away. Feeling trapped in these challenging situations is natural. The more trapped we feel, the more likely things will escalate. The body wants to move. Even if we can’t walk away, we can still allow mindful movement in the hands, feet, neck, torso or shoulders.

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Shifting attention to sounds, smells or tastes can be a beneficial change of focus.  It could be a deliberate stretch or mindfully chewing a piece of gum. During this movement, deliberately shifting the focus of attention to what this freedom of movement feels like.

5) Reflect on circumstances

Sometimes the delays can be beneficial in ways we didn’t anticipate. Remember a time when you were waiting for something that didn’t happen — someone calling for a date, or with a job offer, … and something better appeared? Whew! Thank goodness!  

How about stepping back to see the situation from a broader perspective.When a situation arises that tests your patience, ask yourself, “Will this matter in a year? A month? A day?”

If the answer is no or not really, how wonderful is that?! Enjoy a deep breath and let the impatience go on the exhale.

Wrtitten by Ninette Hupp

You Do You

Been reminiscing on life having learned recently that a friend of mine is likely to die due to another battle against cancer. This time, cancer is winning. He has accepted his fate and he shows incredible grace and fearlessness in the face of it. I am so incredibly grateful for him, and for having overcome so much in my own life. He reminds me how precious life can be.

One fact that I love about myself is that as of today, I’ve been clean and sober for 9,126 days. I did it “cold turkey,” as I’ve never been a joiner. I don’t do well in groups, and I don’t necessarily believe in an external “higher power.” I believe in myself. If indeed we are made in god’s image, then I am also a god and my own “higher power.” I understand that not everyone’s wired the same as me, and respect their process, even if it’s different from my own.

As my therapist reminds me often: You do you. Let everyone else do for themselves.

The Inception of Frankenstein and Mary Shelley’s Prescient Warning About Reproductive Rights

From The Marginalian, 6/26/2022

In June 1816, five young people high on romance and rebellion — two still in their teens, one barely out, none beyond their twenties — found themselves in bored captivity at a rented villa on the shore of Lake Geneva as an unremitting storm raged outside for days. If they couldn’t have the dazzling spring days for which they had fled England, they would have long rambling nights of poetry readings and philosophical disquisitions, animated by wine and laudanum. 

The Villa Diodati 200 years later.

So it is that, late one stormy night, one of them — Lord Byron: gifted, grandiose, violently insecure, “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” in the words of one of his discarded lovers — pulled a French translation of some German ghost stories from their Airbnb’s bookshelf and read from it to the group. He then suggested that they each write a supernatural story of their own, share the results aloud, and vote a winner.

Of the five, one alone completed the challenge at the Villa Diodati and made of it something to outlast its marble columns. It was not His Lordship.

The idea came to her in a “waking dream” several nights later, Mary Shelley (August 30, 1797–February 1, 1851) would recall, looking back on the crucible of creativity — the dream she would sculpt, over the next year of ferocious writing and revision, into one of humanity’s most visionary works of literature.

Mary Shelley

There is no record of the exact night or the exact hour. But two centuries later, drawing on Mary’s account of the moment her idea finally arrived as she lay in bed restless with “the moonlight struggling to get through,” astronomers would use the phase of the Moon and its position in the sky over the Villa Diodati to determine that the only light bright enough to clear the hillside and shine through Mary’s shutters in the middle of the night was the gibbous of June 16, just shy of 2 A.M. 

“Once a poem is made available to the public,” the teenage Sylvia Plath would tell her mother a century-some later, “the right of interpretation belongs to the the reader.” Like a great poem, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus would lend itself to infinite interpretations as it came to tower over the popular imagination for centuries to come, casting its long shadow over the fault lines of the future — the future that is now our present, in which so many of the ideas Mary Shelley contoured and condemned are realities both mundane and menacing: artificial intelligence and genetic engineering, racism and income inequality, the longing for love and the lust for power.

Rising above the multitude of possible readings is the overarching concern that unites them all: the responsibility of life to itself and the question of what makes a body a person; the clear sense that any life is a responsibility — one not to be taken lightly, not to be sullied with vanity and superstition, not to be used as a plaything of power.

Mary Shelley. Art from Literary Witches — an illustrated celebration of trailblazing women writers who have enchanted and transformed the world.

Victor Frankenstein creates a life out of vainglorious ambition and existential loneliness, and flees from his own creation in horror. Unable to love the life he has made, he fails to rise to the fundamental responsibility that parenting demands.

Deprived of that primary bond of love, which moors us to the seabed of being to weather life’s storms, the Creature — which Mary Shelley herself never calls a “monster,” a word applied to him only in later stagings of her masterwork — is savaged by such profound self-loathing that he ends up destroying numerous innocent passersby who cross his sad path. “I am malicious because I am miserable,” he roars in one the truest and most devastating lines in all of literature, in all the common record of our reckoning with human nature.

Mary Shelley’s warning rises from the story sonorous and clear as larksong: Life is not to be made, unless it can be tended with love — or else it dooms all involved to a living death.

“Oh! Stars and clouds and winds,” cries the Creature in his anguished wish for self-erasure, “if ye really pity me, crush sensation and memory” — anguish outmatched only by that of his creator. Wishing with every fiber of his being that he could unmake the life he made but knowing that he cannot, Victor Frankenstein goes through his own life as “a miserable wretch, haunted by a curse that shut up every avenue to enjoyment.”

The notion of reproductive rights was nowhere near the cultural horizon in Mary Shelley’s lifetime. Still beyond the horizon were most basic human rights for women. No woman could vote. No woman could attend university. In her entire century, only four women successfully obtained divorce, and only after demonstrating savage brutality from their husbands. Husbands were legally allowed to beat and rape their wives, who were their property. Women could not own property, including their own bodies.

This was the world Mary was born into, by a mother — the brilliant founding mother of what posterity christened feminism — who had died in giving birth to her. Mary herself — penniless, malnourished, and wearied by long mountain crossings in exile — would barely survive the births of the four children she bore before she was twenty-four, three of whom would die before reaching adolescence. She was eighteen and had already lost her firstborn when she wrote one of the farthest-seeing works of her time, of all time.

With an eye to his creation — “the living monument of presumption and rash ignorance which I had let loose upon the world” — Victor Frankenstein laments the responsibility to life, to other lives, that he had sidestepped in the sweep of his passion:

In a fit of enthusiastic madness I created a rational creature and was bound towards him to assure, as far as was in my power, his happiness and well-being.

This was my duty, but there was another still paramount to that. My duties towards the beings of my own species had greater claims to my attention because they included a greater proportion of happiness or misery.

So begins his quest to track down and vanquish the life he ought never to have created in the first place — a quest that ultimately ends in his own destruction.

A world without the option of abating an ill-conceived life before it has begun is a world that dooms millions to Victor Frankenstein’s fate. What a pause-giving thought: that a girl not yet nineteen, who lived two centuries ago, has a finer moral compass than the Supreme Court of the world’s largest twenty-first-century democracy.

One of teenage artist Virginia Frances Sterrett’s 1920 illustrations for old French fairy tales. (Available as a print.)

Several years and several deaths later — including that of her young husband — Mary Shelley would write the mirror-image of these ideas into another novel, imagining a twenty-first-century world savaged by a deadly pandemic to consider what ultimately makes life worth living.


If you’ve never realized how small you are, you should stop to think about the reality of your existence. The universe is vast and cataclysmal and you are an inconsequential speck in the span of it. And yet, you are still an integral and necessary being without whose presence the world would not be how it is. Isn’t that in itself miraculous?

Our finite brains can’t comprehend the enormity of the state we live in, let alone the universe in which we reside. A universe that is just as alive as we are. A universe that, somehow, we still control and effect. Because as much as life is an illusion, it is also poignant and remarkable. You are given what you need. There is a greater force at work that we theorize about but can’t quite definitely understand. And maybe that’s just how it needs to be. Because if everything were explained, there would be nothing left to figure out. There would be no journey or development or growth. We are all essentially still in a childlike state when you consider what we know compared to the knowledge of the universe. But we lose the wonder.

We lose the wonder because we are gutted by our lives. We are literally and metaphorically cut open, killed and left to either resurrect ourselves or sit in that nothingness. What compels me to believe in humanity, and what keeps me in love with people, is that most often, we choose the former.

You do have love. It’s surrounding you and it’s brought you here. It’s so easy to forget where you are when you stare at the same four walls day-in-and-day-out. You can feel as though your part-time job waiting tables yields no consequence. But all while you’re distracted by the mundane and the ordinary, the miraculous surrounds you, you’re just blind to it.

There are stars colliding and life is evolving and things are transforming and existence is coming and going, it is, always will, and has been even in the 5 seconds it just took you to read that sentence. Whenever you feel hopeless, all you need to do is go outside and realize that you have been molded into human form for some reason. You are somewhere you may never be again. Your actions, no matter how inconsequential you think they may be, have been essential.

Pain is part of the process. It’s part of the miraculousness. You see it when light shines through storm clouds, in the refracting lights of supernovas, in the fact that you must be in a physical state to comprehend the physical things around you– sight, sound, material. But it is also those senses that facilitate your pain. All of these things are rooted in suffering, and yet they all yield the miraculous. So be here. Be part of what you’re sewn into. Bloom where you’re planted. Be aware of the greatness that you are and realize that without you, the seaming of this mysteriously interconnected world would cease to exist as it is. Hope is never gone, it’s just ignored.

Choose Yourself First

8 Mind Blowingg Facts to Know About the Morpho Butterfly

Choose wisely the people you spend time with. If they don’t support you in your dreams and goals, if they don’t share or support your vision, and if they are overly critical, negative, or draining of your energy, wasting your time, and making you second-guess yourself…choose to disconnect. If these qualities are all they seem to have, say goodbye. Everyone has bad days where criticism comes out, or negativity abounds. Toxic people wallow in those qualities.

Self-aware does NOT mean self-involved. This is part of caring for ourselves in a healthy, non-toxic way. Toxic people call us “selfish” when we radically put ourselves and our own well-being first. Is putting your own oxygen mask on before helping others selfish?

No, it’s common sense. You can’t help or care for others if you don’t first do what needs to be done for YOU.

We teach others how to treat us by how we act, what we say, and what we do or do not allow. These are called boundaries. Remember the phrase, “Good fences make good neighbors?” In place of “fences,” put “boundaries.” The state of being we call happiness does not thrive under negative or adverse conditions.

Creative Flow

How Flow State Can Make Digital Marketers More Productive

This marks the relaunch of The Art of Soaring. It has been several years since I felt drawn to rekindle the site. Since 2019 to be exact. The date of my last post.

Since then, I have been keenly focused on my creative process, as each birthday (June) I put together a 1yr, 3yr, 5yr, and 10yr Personal Mission Statement. Those are all incorporated into one document, but it really helps focus on what needs to be done and what can be repurposed.

I’ve been reading Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and am getting a LOT of mileage from its wisdom. This passage addresses the ways in which those who do not have or use a lot of creative thinking in their daily lives tend to view those who do. Basically, the author delves deep into the creative mind and emerges with some stunning insight. The most successful creatives understand and use flow in their everyday existence. It requires a stunning bit of focus over the long-term and being able to avoid the distraction of friends and others who might try and demand some of your time. I personally experience this a lot in my daily life.

Another consequence of limited attention is that creative individuals are often considered odd—or even arrogant, selfish, and ruthless. It is important to keep in mind that these are not traits of creative people, but traits that the rest of us attribute to them on the basis of our perceptions. When we meet a person who focuses all of his attention on physics or music and ignores us and forgets our names, we call that person ‘arrogant’ even though he may be extremely humble and friendly if he could only spare attention from his pursuit. If that person is so taken with his domain that he fails to take our wishes into account we call him ‘insensitive’ or ‘selfish’ even though such attitudes are far from his mind. Similarly, if he pursues his work regardless of other people’s plans we call him ‘ruthless.’ Yet, it is practically impossible to learn a domain deeply enough to make a change in it without dedicating all of one’s attention to it and thereby appearing to be arrogant, selfish, and ruthless to those who believe they have a right to the creative person’s attention.”

The INTJ Male

STEREOTYPE: INTJs are narcissistic know-it-alls who think that everyone else is intellectually inferior to them.

REALITY: INTJs are indisputably aware of their own intelligence — but they’re also radically open-minded. This personality type is constantly taking in new information and deciding how each new piece fits into the puzzle they they’re assembling in their mind. They want to see a situation from all possible angles — which means they don’t want to hear your take on it, even if they don’t necessarily agree with it immediately.


Why Highly Sensitive People have to Choose their Friends Carefully

from The Elephant Journal, 3/12/2018, by Sarah Thomas

It is true that our blessings and gifts can be our biggest curses.

This is most true for those who identify as empathic and intuitive. Being super sensitive can become a roadblock when it comes to social relationships.

I grew up as a highly sensitive child and teen, unable at times to separate my emotion from the emotions of those I shared space with. Those who didn’t share my sensitivities told me cruel things, like:

“You have no backbone. You have no self. You’re too sensitive. Don’t be so open. Don’t be so honest. You’re weak. You’re insecure. Don’t take others so seriously. Just let it roll off your back. Stand your ground. Buck up.”

All these messages have power. Words have an energy—a charge. And they can harm just as much as they can heal. All those words, well, they hurt. In fact, they still do. The only difference between then and now is that my old self believed those things. My current self, well, she questions them. She still smarts when she hears them, whether they’re being said to her personally, or to someone else.

It’s like nails down a chalkboard when she hears: “Why are you so emotional? Why do you think so deeply on things? Maybe you think and feel too much.”

Is there such a thing as thinking too deeply and feeling too much for a highly sensitive, empathic soul? In our own company, we would say: absolutely not! Bring those emotional storms, and let’s have a party with them—it’s one big feelings dance!

Why sensitive souls are desperate for sensitive-soul buddies:

Perhaps one can feel too much when it’s not just their feelings they are tuning into, but the feelings of other people around them. As empaths, we enjoy the company of other empathic people, with one caveat: sometimes the intensity of two similar, sensitive souls can become too much. Sometimes we get excited and we open to each other so quickly and deeply that we soon burn out the connection. And if we don’t burn it out, then we mar it.

I’ve had a rather mystical connection with all of my empathic friends. There is often what I call an unspoken psychic communication. When we are in the room together, the energy feels palpable and magnetic. And when we are away from each other, we can still pick up on the nuances of what is happening in each other’s lives. We have dreams about each other that feel prophetic. We get feelings, impulses, and visions about each other that, when shared, offer the other person a sense of clarity that deepens our connection with each other, and enhances the one we have with ourselves.

I think the best gift my empathic, highly sensitive friends have to give is the validation that my connection—the felt sense I have in the moment—is on target. I’ve suddenly thought of a friend, and then she texts me. When I share that with her, she says she suddenly felt me me too, which is why she texted. We can be living across the globe, and yet it’s as if we are here, together. Physical space holds no power over our connection.

But—there is a caveat. There is a pitfall.

It resides in those paper-thin lines between us: a lack of boundaries. To be so profoundly close that you can sense another’s deepest thoughts, yearnings, or insecurities is a powerful thing—a sacred thing. However, it can also be dangerous.

Come on, friends, step on my heart:

There have been times in the past (before I knew how to create those boundaries) when I was like a completely open field—anyone could just step right into my space, romp around, and do as they pleased until their hearts felt content and they moved on to the next boundary-free empathic playground.

The problem was, at the end of their romping, my heart did not feel content.

At the end of their “let’s use Sarah as a tool for our emotional release” session, my whole being felt depleted and drained. My giving, loving heart felt hurt. And over the years, those individual hurts morphed into one big wound. A year ago, the intensity of my anger and rage made me want to close my heart and hide it, keeping me safe—so no one could find me and have their way with me—but isolated.

But recently, I realized that being alone was not a permanent solution. My playful self desired playmates.

Was it possible to let down the walls that encircled my heart to those who would respect it? Perhaps it was. Perhaps I could leave only a small fence up that would keep a part of me protected.

I now understand that being open to the feelings of those around us is a wonderful gift. It is powerful and validating to have kindred souls to share that with. However, if we don’t learn to create healthy boundaries for ourselves, the world at large (including our fellow empathic and highly sensitive friends) will take advantage of our openness.

I’m going to share a few techniques I’ve used to create healthy boundaries.

Boundary-setting 101: How to turn your paper-thin lines into thick, concrete walls.

Be okay with saying no.

Yes, you heard me: “No, thank you! Not right now. That’s close enough. No, I’m not interested. No, I need space right now. No, I’m not available tonight.” You get the gist. Saying no sets the stage for you to allow only what is right for you. When you set the stage, your new friend has a path laid out before them to walk—spike tape, if you will.

And if they choose to walk outside of your lines, well then, bye! You’ve discovered they are not healthy for you. I encourage you to practice saying no to a friend, and that you’re too tired—just for the sake of practice. If they’re your friend, and they love you, they will say: “Get some rest! I’ll miss you but would love to see you when you’re feeling energized again.”

Self-care, self-care, self-care!

Goddess, this term is overused, isn’t it? It’s overused because it’s under-used. We need to do more of it.

One of my favorite self-care rituals to replenish my energy when I’ve been drained is taking a warm Epsom salt bath with candlelight. Epsom salt is said to clear negative energy. It also relaxes your muscles. I add in some essential oil, or if I am feeling indulgent, I’ll use a bath bomb. I take that time in the bath to just soak in the hot, steamy water until I sweat out all my feelings of overwhelm.

Self-care means listening to your needs and meeting them in the moment, the best way you can. If your sensory system is suddenly in overdrive and you’re at a big group function, self-care might mean removing yourself from the group and taking a walk outside, or a trip to the bathroom, or maybe you even leave. Self-care means honoring the boundaries you’ve set for your heart, even if the other person becomes pushy.

Honor your right to choose.

I call my friends my tribe. Unlike my blood family, I get to choose my friends and my partner, and that is such a blessing. When I feel I have chosen unwisely, I can always make a different choice, or I can make my boundaries firmer and see if that shifts the relationship. In some cases, that choice involves loosening my boundaries with folks who have really gained my trust and shown me they honor and respect my boundaries, just like I honor and respect theirs.

My friend, you get one life.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver

Image result for choose your friends

Personal Mythology


THE ancient myths are not dead; they live on in the stories people tell about their own lives.

While the old gods do not show up by name, they are there in spirit, in the struggles and triumphs that people depict as the key episodes in their lives.

New work by psychological researchers shows that in telling their life stories, people invent a personal myth, a tale that, like the myths of old, explains the meaning and goals of their lives. In doing so, they match – quite unwittingly – the characters and themes that are found in the old myths.

For example, one research subject, Tom H., depicted his life story as a saga in which he was a warrior like the Greek god Ares. Tom found himself in constant battle -with other children, relatives and people in authority. The main struggle of his life was between periods as a ”noble warrior,” dutiful and austere, and as a ”traitor,” drunken and irresponsible.

Understanding personal myths is important, psychologists say, because they do more than reveal how a person sees his past: they also act as a sort of script that determines how that person is likely to act in the future. And for those who are living out destructive myths, some therapists are using insights into the myths at the heart of their patients’ problems as a key to treatment.

”Every myth has a creative side and a dark side,” said Philip Zabriskie, chairman of the Jung Institute of New York. ”If you can find the core myth that illuminates a person’s life, you have a powerful tool for psychotherapy.”

Dr. Zabriskie’s wife, Beverly, who is also a Jungian analyst, uses the example of Isis, the Egyptian goddess, to show how the transformation of a character in a myth can be used therapeutically. In the course of the myth, Isis, changes from the helper of a powerful male to an authority in her own right. Dr. Beverly Zabriskie finds that many women who identify with this myth can be helped to become less dependent on the men in their lives.

The psychological interest in myth has spread beyond the Jungian approach to therapy, in which the therapist often uses images and motifs from a patient’s dreams as clues to a myth that has special meaning for the patient’s problems. In the new studies, researchers are examining how the identity a person chooses shapes the course of life.

The new data, gathered by non-Jungian researchers, lend credibility to the methods long used by Jungian analysts, and to the view expressed by the mythologist Joseph Campbell in his classic ”The Hero With 1,000 Faces,” who wrote, ”The latest incarnation of Oedipus, the continued romance of Beauty and the Beast, stands this afternoon on the corner of 42d Street and Fifth Avenue, waiting for the traffic light to change.”

Jerome Bruner, a psychologist at New York University who is writing a book on autobiography, said there are clear ”mythic patterns” in the stories people tell about their lives. ”People model their account of their life on a myth, and so begin living it in those terms,” he said. From Greeks to Sioux

Much of the new research on the role of myth in psychological life builds on the work of Mr. Campbell, an expert on world mythology who died last November, and whose theories are the subject of a six-part series that began on the Public Broadcasting System last night.

In his exhaustive studies of the mythologies of cultures around the world, Mr. Campbell showed how the same basic characters could be found in different versions in cultures as distant as the ancient Greeks and the Sioux Indians. Today, people encounter these characters most often not in classic myths but rather in their modern incarnations – as characters in novels, movies and television. In this sense, as Mr. Campbell observed, the young King Arthur lives today as Luke Skywalker of the ”Star Wars” epic, Aphrodite as the mermaid in ”Splash,” and Hercules as Rambo.

Focusing on these same universal characters and themes in the stories people tell about their own lives, psychologists are finding, offers clues to the way people will behave in certain situations, given the ”script” they see for themselves.

”What we take from the myths is not the entire story, but key aspects that resonate with and make sense of our own lives,” said Dan McAdams, a psychologist at Loyola University in Chicago, who has done some of the most current research. Themes From a Two-Hour Tale

In Dr. McAdams’s research, people are asked to tell their life stories in a two-hour session, focusing on what they see as the main chapters, key episodes and significant characters. Dr. McAdams and his associates then analyze the stories to find their underlying themes and mythic characters. The role these characters play in a life story is subtle; the person who tells the story is almost never aware of their role in shaping his tale.

From the analysis, Dr. McAdams determines what he calls the ”imago” (pronounced ih-MAY-go) and Jung called the ”archetype,” the mythic character at the heart of a person’s life story. Among the common archetypes that emerged in Dr. McAdams’s research were those of Demeter, the care giver; Ares, the warrior; Apollo, the healer; Hestia, the homemaker; Aphrodite, the lover, and Athena, the counselor.

Dr. McAdams recognizes that his choice of Greek gods and goddesses to typify these traits is arbitrary. ”I follow Joseph Campbell’s notion that there are universal mythic forms that show up in most, if not all, cultures,” Dr. McAdams said. ”They are the timeless and universal roles that people tend to play in life.”

These archetypes, he finds, shape the stories people tell him about their lives. For instance, Rebecca K., one of the research subjects, described a life of constant adventure and exploration, in the style of Hermes, a god typified as being constantly on the move. Although her day-to-day work was that of a social worker, she told a picaresque life story, a romantic adventure in which the heroine was incessantly searching for new places, experiences and people.

In the spirit of Hermes, an explorer and adventurer, the majority of key episodes in Rebecca K.’s life story were set in foreign countries. Most of the key events of her life involved illicit love affairs, experiments with drugs and encounters with strange foods and customs.

People who interpret their lives in terms of being lovers, on the other hand, views life through the intensity of relationships, whether platonic or erotic. One of those subjects with the strongest imago as a lover in Dr. McAdams’s study was a former nun; the major theme in her life story was repeated episodes of extremely passionate, though nonsexual, relationships. Her goal in life was to establish a community where ”loving, likeminded people could live together.”

One of the more common mythic identities that people to hold to, Dr. McAdams has found, is that of the escapist, embodied in the god Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry. Such people continually seek to avoid responsibility and live to lose themselves in diversions. Close to 30 percent of those he studied fit this pattern. Imagoes of Power

Another set of common imagoes represent needs for power, according to Dr. McAdams, while others embody needs for intimacy. In his research he used psychological tests to compare the predominant needs of people with the imagoes that dominate their life stories. He found that those people with a greater need for intimacy more often held to imagoes reflecting that need, such as that of the care giver or the loyal friend. Those with higher power needs, however, more often told their stories in terms of powerful imagoes, such as that of the warrior and the ruler.

For most people, Dr. McAdams said, an archetype first takes shape in early adulthood, the phase of life when a clear sense of one’s identity tends to emerge. At any one time, a person’s identity may be shaped by just one or by some combination of these characters; they often change over the course of a lifetime as a person matures. Early in life, a person is more likely to identify, say, with the adventurer or lover archetype; later in life, perhaps, with the care giver or homemaker.

The predominant myths of people’s lives are likely to shift when major changes require that they find a new organizing principle, said Bertram Cohler, a psychologist at the University of Chicago. ”People keep a sense of an ongoing identity by rewriting their life story from time to time to make their past and present hold together,” Dr. Cohler said. ”These myths give a sense of meaning to the shifting events of one’s life.” Dark Side of Myths

Not all the myths people use to explain the events of their lives are positive. ”You can see therapy as a process of understanding a person’s story, and, if he or she is living a self-destructive myth, to try to revise it,” Dr. McAdams said. ”Some of the imagoes are vicious: seeing your life as one of victimization or exploitation, for instance. The people I studied were well-adjusted, so these imagoes did not emerge often. But even some of the common ones have a dark side, such as the care giver who gives so much he can never take care of himself, or the adventurer who is driven to reckless risk or lives an empty life.”

The use of myth and archetype in therapy comes most naturally to Jungian analysts, for whom it is a standard approach. ”People act on mythic archetypes without knowing what they are doing,” said Dr. Zabriskie, the chairman of the Jung Institute. ”When you find the myth or myths that shape a person’s identity, you can try to tap the creative side of the myth and separate the person from the destructive side. ”For instance, if a man identifies with a warrior hero who is bent on sacrificing himself, then the man may be in danger of putting himself in actual physical risk.”

A person’s archetypes will often shed light on the general patterns and specific problems in his life, according to Dr. Zabriskie. ”Take a woman who is 35 and still living at home with her mother, and whose psyche is taken with the figure Persephone, whose mother Demeter would not let things grow until her daughter returned from the Underworld,” he said. ”She needs to become conscious of the destructive meaning of that archetype, and how it victimizes her.” If she begins to see that, then she may be able to do something about it.’

Myths are a sort of public dream, and dreams a kind of private myth, as Mr. Campbell observed. Jungians put much stock in dreams as a source of insights into the myths that matter most to a person, and the psychological truths those myths conceal. Fragment of a Myth

”Sometimes a fragment of a myth will appear in a patient’s dream,” said Dr. Zabriskie. ”When it does, it’s an important clue. One of my patients saw part of a chariot wheel in a dream. His associations connected it to the old story of Hippolytus, who was destroyed in a war between Aphrodite, whom he adored, and Artemis, who was jealous. For him, the myth signified an internal conflict between two ways of being, one passive, the other active.”

Most world myths are tales of psychological transformations, in Mr. Campbell’s view. Reading myths psychologically, he showed, reveals them to be parables of growth and development, in which the travails of the hero signify an inner struggle; the most universal experience of such a ”hero’s journey” is the transition from childhood dependency to the independence of the adult. Self-image and myth can coincide in people’s stories of their lives, researchers say. An ex-nun reflected Aphrodite, goddess of love, though her relationships were nonsexual. Another woman told of adventures like those of Hermes, the messenger god. Others reflected powerful Zeus, Hera, his wife, or Dionysus, god of revelry. Self-Images and Ancient Myths Some of the most common Greek mythic figures whose characteristics are reflected in stories people tell about their lives have been identified by Dan McAdams, a psychologist at Loyola University in Chicago. His findings are based on two-hour biographical interviews. Apollo, the healer: Prophet, artist, protector, organizer, legislator. Athena, the counselor: Arbiter, therapist, teacher, guide, peacemaker. Prometheus, the humanist: Defender of the weak, revolutionary, evangelist. Zeus, the ruler: Judge, conqueror, seducer, creator, sage, celebrity. Hermes, the swift traveler: Explorer, adventurer, trickster, rabble-rouser, persuader, gambler, entrepreneuer. Ares, the warrior: Fighter, soldier, policeman. Demeter, the caregiver: Altruist, martyr. Hera, the loyal friend: Spouse, helpmate, chum, confidante, sibling, assistant. Aphrodite, the lover: Charmer, seducer. Hestia, the homemaker: Domestic, ritualist. Hephaestus, the wage-earner: Craftsman, laborer. Dionysus, the escapist: Pleasure-seeker, hedonist, player, epicure, child.

from The New York Times, Daniel Goleman, 5/24/1988

Writing and the Creative Life: How Does “Creativity” Translate Across Different Cultures?

Originality. Meaningfulness. Value. Collaboration. All part of what creativity is about in the 21st century.

From a article:

What is creativity? What does it mean to be creative? And, assuming you can come up with your own definition, how do you think it differs from others around the world? Those are just a few of the questions addressed in a new report from agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky London and Vlad Glaveanu, an associate professor at Aalborg University’s International Center for the Cultural Psychology of Creativity in Denmark.

Interviewing 806 young professional men and women in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Brazil, Turkey, Russia, China, and India, the report highlights three key topics. First, it defines a new global definition of creativity — combining originality, meaningfulness, and value — and the way that this manifests itself around the world. Second, it reveals a surprisingly lower degree of creative self-confidence in Europe and, in contrast, the creative optimism on display in markets that are currently growing economically. And third, it highlights the increasing importance of seeing creativity as a process to engage in collaboratively, rather than rely on a lone creative genius to dream up a solution.

Re the second point, the Brexit blow-up probably won’t help on Europe’s creative self-confidence front, but it’s the other two points I want to consider today.

Creativity defined as “combining originality, meaningfulness, and value”. Honestly, I would likely never have lumped these three attributes together when thinking about creativity. Originality, yes. Meaningfulness? I do think a lot about an idea’s resonance, both with me as a writer and with a potential script reader / audience member, so meaningfulness is a solid term.

What about value? That feels like a quantitative term, doesn’t it, like what is a particular creative effort worth? And here again in thinking about my process, specifically when assessing story concepts, at some point I always put on my ‘producer’s hat’ and ask, “Who’s the audience? Would they see this movie?” So yes, I could imagine bringing value into the mix when describing creativity.

As to the third point, another excerpt from the article:

Another finding was around overall support for the idea that people are more creative when they work together. Agreement with this statement peaks in India (81%), followed by the U.S. (75.3%), Brazil (74.3%), and Turkey (71%).

“The history of studying creativity has always revolved around the idea of genius,” says Glaveanu. “We had questions in this survey, asking people if they still hang on to this idea that creativity is something rare, something innate, something very few people have. And one of the first things for me that stood out was that, globally, we move from this image or old fascination of the individual genius toward an idea that everyone can create. And beyond that, we need to collaborate in order to be creative.”

Is there perhaps something going on here where the perception of the “individual genius” is giving way to a more collaborative approach? With globalism, instant communication via multiple platforms, and the rise of co-working spaces, could those communal dynamics be influencing the very nature of the creativity?

In the 15 years I’ve been teaching screenwriting online, I’ve noticed how powerful workshop environments can be. Over that time, I would venture to say that virtually every week, when we have group teleconferences, creative insight and inspiration has emerged in the form of feedback and brainstorming solutions to story issues. And this is with writers from all around the world (I’ve worked with writers from nearly 40 countries).

That’s why I always encourage my Screenwriting Master Class workshop members to continue as a writers group and many of them do, creating an ongoing collaboration and lasting friendships.

Originality. Meaningfulness. Value. Collaboration. All part of what creativity is about in the 21st century.

What do you think of this definition of creativity? How important is collaboration to you when it comes to being creative? Or do you subscribe to the theory of individual genius?

Are You An Empath?

Original article from Thought Catalogue,

1. Knowing

Empaths have a deep sense of knowing that is unwavering and unquestionable which comes with pinpoint accuracy in its description. They are capable of reading others without obvious cues and can describe what’s really going on beneath the surface.

They know if someone is being dishonest or not speaking their truths. The more attuned they are to their empathy the stronger and more frequent the knowing and reading abilities will be.

2. Effective Listeners And Communicators

A natural ability to listen with all their senses acutely attuned allowing the person to feel as though they are being heard and understood. They can intuitively guide a conversation with sincere compassion enabling even the most reserved person to respond and express their deepest and even most painful thoughts and feelings they wouldn’t ordinarily share.

In most case, it is carried out in an unspoken confidence and trust, yet if a situation potentially calls for outside intervention (i.e. self-harm) they will weigh up the need to act in the best interest of that person, not self, even if it means risking ongoing relations.

3. Overwhelmed In Public Places

Shopping malls, supermarkets or stadiums where masses of people gather can be overwhelming and even lead to panic attacks or anxiety due to the myriad of emotions being sensed and until this is contained and manageable they will steer clear of being in said surroundings.

4. Feeling Others Emotions Pains, Illnesses And Stresses

Due to heightened sensitivities to emotional and physical energy it is a very common occurrence to take on-board the emotions etc. of others and not even realize they are doing so. Directly mirroring it as though it was their own.

It can make it very difficult to distinguish what is belonging to self or another and life can become extremely overwhelming. Self-awareness brings a greater degree of control and the ability to determine whose emotions etc. are whose and not get caught up in it.

5. Mood Swings, Unpredictable And Needy

They can experience extreme highs and lows which makes them unpredictable in behavior at the best of times. One minute they can be happy and the next minute very sad and withdrawn which is not always the result of how they actually feel but what they have picked up in others, this can be confusing let alone depressing.

They can also be very demanding of attention be it for good reasons or not, if they feel they are not being heard they will act out and come across as needy, even narcissistic, although they would seriously question and oppose the latter. Just because one may have strong empathy at some point in time does not mean they are not akin to being so overwhelmed with it that they fall heavily towards narcissism.

6. Sensitive to TV, Radio, and Movies And Real Life Chaos

Violence, cruelty, shocking scenes of physical or emotional pain or abuse can bring an empath to tears. They may even feel physically ill, bewildered and struggle to comprehend such acts as being justified. One sure way of dealing with this is to turn off the TV or radio or disassociating yourself from the chaos.

7. Prone To Illness, Disease And Physical Pain

Because of the onslaught of emotional energy they are overly sensitive too and in most cases, they don’t know how to deal with this can become problematic and manifest into varying forms of illnesses or disease. It is vital to learn about emotional energy, distinguish its origin and apply the tools that will allow the person to move forward with balanced wellness. Existing illnesses and disease can potentially be laid to rest once and for all in doing so.

8. Magnetic Pull Of Trust

Others, including strangers are drawn to an empath like a magnet and find it easy to express themselves and resonate with them on a deep and meaningful level; they will often feel like they have known each other for many years even though they may have just met.

People have this innate sense of trust and feel comfortable and relaxed in their presence yet are conscious they would not normally feel this way.

9. Constant Fatigue

They are drawn to helping others and in doing so take on more than their fair share to personally cope with both emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually and will experience constant fatigue. They may need to take daily catnaps or retreats just to replenish their energy and feel revitalized.

10. Addictive Behaviour

Can be caused by wanting to escape from what they are bombarded with or a desperate need to feel connected.

Their heightened sensitivities more than often don’t come with an awareness of how to deal with it, (the energies they pick up on like sponges) let alone what is happening and they will adopt addictive tendencies to drown out, numb and distract them, such as drinking, smoking, taking drugs, binge eating to gambling etc.

Unfortunately for some, in doing so (i.e. taking drugs) it can heighten their sensitivities even more and create greater issues.

11. Healing, Holistic Health And Wellness

Whether it is a career as a nurse, doctor, physiotherapist, neurosurgeon, psychologist or massage therapist, homeopath, naturopath, Chinese medicine practitioner and social workers or a veterinarian, those who have strong empathy from a young age are often drawn to these fields due to a pull to helping heal people and/or animals.

Strict and long-term education and work protocols however is known to stifle ones innate empathy and remarkably deter them from what drew them to the field in the first place. Once in the field, there is a great need to be aware of ones empathy and not become overwhelmed in taking on others energy as it can become a catalyst in burning out and walking away all together.

12. Curiosity And Seekers Of The Truth

Driven by curiosity to understand the intricacies of life and an intense desire to seek the truth and question much of everything until they feel a resonance to any given answer, if it doesn’t sit well with them their curiosity will grow and they will continue to seek answers even if it takes a lifetime.

13. Interests In Spirituality And Metaphysical

They can be drawn to the unexplainable, paranormal, metaphysics and have a deep sense of spirituality (not necessarily religion even though they may lean towards such in order to find a sense of belonging). They will dabble in many areas until they find their niche and they will actively pursue it throughout their lifetime.

14. Cultural And Indigenous

They are drawn to ancient cultures that adhere to long-held traditions cloaked in universal laws as they embody innate logic, common sense and practical uncomplicated ways in which to do all manner of things. They will often shake their head in disbelief when others do and act in a way that opposes universal laws.

15. Ancestral Lineage – Who Am I?  

From a young age, they are the child that listens to the stories of old that are passed down throughout the generations. They have a genuine interest in wanting to know where they came from and who their ancestors were and what they did in their lifetime and will grow up to be keepers of the family tree and possess a collection of photo albums and heirlooms. Feeling a sense of connectedness holds great importance and as they learn this, they in-turn will be the one to pass this knowledge on to their children.

16. Quiet Achievers And Strong Leaders

Although they are quiet achievers who prefer to do the hard yards behind the scenes they will often be found in positions of leadership due to their ability to be focused, organized and supportive, quick thinking and capable of inspiring and motivating others with magnificent poise.

They are more comfortable in giving sincere praise upon others rather than accepting it and are often found mediating to maintain a balance of harmony.

17. Creative Talents

A great love for expressing their creativity as artists, musicians, singers, dancers, performing artists, acting, poets and designers etc. They love to tell a story and can captivate an audience through a vivid imagination and an ease in which they can take you directly into the picture as though you were actually experiencing it firsthand.

18. Love Of Nature And Animals

Inclined to have a pet as they love to give and receive unconditional love that come from dogs, cats, rabbits etc. and are often advocates or supporters in the prevention of cruelty to animals.

They enjoy being outdoors, amongst the forest or high in the mountains and are content being connected to the land and will often escape from the busy world to rejuvenate their senses.

19. Cleansing Water

Be it swimming in the sea, floating in the pool, walking in the rain, a long soak in the tub or a hot shower to cleanse and wash away the troubles of the day, they sense the healing properties of water and reconnection to the womb for the safety and comfort it held can be recaptured in that moment.

20. Need For Solitude

Although they can be very sociable, they also like to escape from the hustle and bustle and are content with their own company enjoying the tranquillity that comes with being in a quiet space reading a book, watching a movie, drawing a picture, pursuing a hobby they love to just relaxing. They will display this tendency from childhood and throughout life.

21. Boredom, Distracted And Daydreaming

A need to be stimulated and focused on one project or another and will give all their energy to any given task whether it is at school, work or home life. If the task fails to stimulate their senses they become bored, distracted and will either begin to fidget, doodle or be off in their minds daydreaming.

22. Adventure Seekers, Travel And Spontaneous

Enjoy spontaneity in their life by exploring all that life has to offer and will seek out adventures, travel to far off places or find enjoyable activities nearby. They enjoy being free spirited, leaving the constraints of the world behind them and if they don’t get to do this as often as they would like will become quite restless and agitated.

23. Clutter, Energy And Flow

An awareness of energy comes naturally and they will feel weighted down by clutter and chaos, although they may collect things everything has a place and order and they will constantly do clutter clearing to allow the balance of energy (flow) in their environment. They have an ability to place furniture or even plant gardens in a way that energy flows in and around everything.

24. Rule Breakers

Routine, repetition and rules can become mundane for the creative empath who continuously seek ways in which to express their loves, the things they enjoy in life. If they are told they cannot do something, within reason they will find a way that they can as the willingness to challenge themselves goes hand in hand with being spontaneous.

25. Enthusiasm And Appreciation Of Life

Bursting with energy and an appreciation towards life and living it as fully as they can is filled with enthusiasm. However the downside is they can exert so much energy that they will burn out and need to take time to recuperate and when they do they will bounce back and give themselves fully.

They don’t do anything in halves; it’s all or nothing and they tend to feel disappointed if others around them don’t share the same zest for life as they do.

26. Humanitarians, Peacemakers And Mediators

Conflict is extremely unsettling regardless if it is with family, friends, colleagues or even complete strangers or if it is direct or indirect, locally or internationally and will voice their feelings towards such. They will endeavor to find a peaceful resolution even if it means being a mediator.

They have a love and respect of all people and cultures and vehemently oppose wars, political unrest, cruelty, racism, hatred and separatism as they believe deeply that we can all live together in harmony and will advocate this in one way or another, if not by being pivotal to the establishment of humanitarian organizations or in support of.

27. Sensitive To Antiques, Vintage Or Second-hand

Holding objects such as rings, jewelry, clothing, ornaments or touching door handles to old buildings, entering historical homes etc. can bring through very vivid and accurate accounts of the owner(s) history and life experiences.

This can be extremely daunting and off putting to those sensitive to picking up energies, whereas those who are more aware and in control of their empathy will feel at ease, and be drawn to such.

28. Lucid Dreamers

The dream realm is not just a meaningless place where one goes when they are asleep. An empath often has vivid dreams from a very young age and throughout and will have lucid dreams where they are awake in their dreams and have an ability to control certain aspects by willful thought alone and are capable of describing in graphic detail the dream content.

They also have a strong desire to interpret the dream knowing that it has direct relevance to their physically awake life and in doing so can find answers to guide them well. It is not unusual for an empath to at some point in time in their lives to have experienced and Out of Body Experience or Astral Travel, be it voluntarily or not.

29. Lovers Not Fighters

Empaths love to love others and be loved in return and will seek meaningful relationships throughout their entire lives, though they are not always adept at self-love as they are inclined to give of themselves freely to others and can grow up thinking (by what they learn from society) that it is selfish to love thine self and that that is narcissistic in behavior.

They do not like to be caught up in fights be it verbal or physical as communication comes easily to them, however they will not be passive either but they will aim for a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible. They will get extremely frustrated if the other person is not willing to resolve the conflict fully as they don’t see the logic in dragging things on.

30. Visionaries, Entrepreneurial And Problem Solvers

Intense visionaries blended with their adventurous love of life streak and enthusiasm they will dabble in many ventures and business opportunities and find ways in which to expand their potential, feed their creative minds and do the things they love to do.

They have this instinctive knowing they are capable of achieving greater things and will constantly think outside the box and push through any and all boundaries, (often against the odds) with focused and dog determined energy.  Where there is a problem, their immediately lies an answer and they won’t stop until they find it even if that means inventing it themselves!

It is important to note that most people experience varying degrees of empathy, however if you can say yes to most, if not all of the above you definitely are an empath.

The 12 Universal Laws

The Law of Divine Oneness

This is known as the golden rule in several religions, you might have seen it expressed like this: Judaism says ‘thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’. The Torah says ‘do to others what you would have them do to you’. Wicca says ‘harm ye none’. These familiar moral statements can be hard to put into practice when the human experience can make us believe that we are separate. How do you love your neighbor as yourself when they are in a separate body, living in a way that is quite different from each other? The golden rule becomes easier to enact when you know that we are in fact one.

Imagine one ball of energy, now this energy desires to express itself in the world of relativity, and so it does through several different beings all at once, to know itself from various viewpoints. We are as fingers on the same hand, thinking we are separate however once we are out of the illusion of this experience we come know that we are one. This does not only apply to people but all energy; animals, plants, the planets, the unseen world behind the veil. When you feel a deep loneliness within or a longing for something unnamed this is your soul longing for the experience of oneness. We live in this illusion so deeply so that we may experience ourself entirely, every side of ourself and we could not do that if we were in the world of the absolute. But it is incredibly helpful to remember the truth often. The truth is that you and I are the same being and the person you were three life times ago is you too and the energy that makes the trees grow is also you and you are God and God is you.

So love is the recognition of oneness in a world of duality. This is the birth of God into the world of form. – Eckhart Tolle

Upon remembering your divinity and your oneness with all you can appreciate what each soul is trying to achieve here on earth, you can understand human differences and allow people to walk their own path more freely without trying to control it for them. You will walk lighter, knowing that you can never truly be apart from your loved ones or the heavens and you will behave in a way that is far kinder to all.

Divine Oneness


The Law of Vibration

Everything in its most basic form is energy and that energy is constantly in motion through vibration. When the vibration of energy has slowed right down we see the creation of dense matter as it is in the relative world and when the vibration of energy is accelerated energy becomes lighter and less likely to take on form, so it is with the spirit world.

Matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. – Albert Einstein

Nothing in our universe seen or unseen is still, everything vibrates at varied speeds. This is particularly helpful to know when you consider your thoughts and feelings. Both thoughts and emotions vibrate at a particular speed. The vibration of your feelings goes a long way in creating your physical experience.

To apply this universal law try writing down something you would like to occur in your life, then without judgement write down your present thoughts about it, your present feelings about it and your present actions that you are taking to achieve it. Be truly honest and try not to judge yourself. This will show you where you are vibrating at on the level of that which you are wishing into your life. If you’re hoping for a raise in your career but your thinking about it makes you feel an inner tightness and fear then you are not aligned with the outcome you desire. Following this process, try writing down how you would like to feel and think about your goal and then if possible list one or two actions that you can take that will help you get there. Sit with that feeling of having what you desire for a few minutes, imagine yourself already having achieved it and what that feels like. You have now changed your vibration into the alignment of what you desire thus calling it to you in from pure energy into form.

The Law of Action

This law is one that can be overlooked when working with the universe to manifest changes in your life. In order to help you show the universe what your desires are it is vital to take actionable steps in the direction of your goals. Once you have allowed yourself to feel what you would like to experience you will be in alignment with that, take the next step and begin taking action toward it. This can be a small action like creating room in your schedule for that which you desire or bigger actions like making phone calls or signing up to classes that are in the alignment of your goal.

Creation is a proactive process, requiring intention and action.

By applying the law of action to your desires you’re letting the universe know you’re ready for the change and the speed at which you can achieve your desires can move rapidly. You may find yourself in the right place at the right time by ‘accident’ or you will meet someone who can help you achieve your goal in a way that you had not previously realized. Coincidences are perfectly aligned with your vibration and action to support you and the universe always supports you, it’s only statement is ‘yes’. What actions can you take that would begin moving you toward your dreams?

law of action

The Law of Correspondence

We might have heard this said “on earth, as it is in heaven”, this is another way of representing the law of correspondence. You may have noticed that what you feel or are ‘being’ internally is what you are more likely to experience externally.

As within, so without. As above, so below – this is the law of correspondence.

If everything that has ever occurred is happening in this moment right now, then your higher self is the you that has experienced it all. You can connect with your higher self for directions and guidance in the same way that you can give advice to your younger self. On occasion you may have experienced deja vu, which is the process of your higher self remembering that you have experienced this moment before.  This is the term as above, so below in action. There is only the illusion of separation, but no true separation; we are all one. If you want to connect to your higher self, allow yourself to have moments of being fully present in the moment, relax your mind and don’t attach to, or judge your thoughts. If you’re facing a decision, in this mindful state allow your intuition to guide you, when you feel a strong pull to one direction, that intuition is information from your higher self.

The Law of Cause and Effect

This law speaks clearly; for every cause there is an effect and for every effect there is a cause. If there is an effect you are seeking to experience then you must take action or cause it to occur. In some instances the cause is unseen, vibrating from your inner world into your outer experience.

Thought is cause, experience is effect. If you don’t like the effects of your life, you have to change the nature of your thinking. – Marianne Williamson

If you want to work with the law of cause and effect work with your intention in every circumstance. Your thoughts, feelings and actions are all motivated by your intention. If you are taking action in any direction whether it be making your morning coffee or giving a presentation ensure your intention is for the highest good for yourself and everyone involved. Envision the best outcome before you do anything, this will not only help guide you to do that which is in your highest interests but also help to create the desired outcome by believing you are already experiencing it.

Laws of the universe, suzie maddock

The Law of Compensation

The law of compensation states that you get back what you give. This can be seen in your job, whereby you are compensated financially for your work. This can also be seen in the little things like smiling at the person serving you and genuinely asking them how they are; sending that kind of joyful interaction toward your fellow man can really spread, brightening not just their day, but yours and others as well. Kindness and joy spread easily with this law, on the flip side so does complaining and resentment, about the state of your world. To minimize this where your first action might be to verbalize your complaint, first ask yourself what can you personally do to change this? When working with this law be sure to give generously without expectation, all that you wish to receive.

Be the change you wish to see in the world – Mahatma Gandhi

It can be very easy to focus on what isn’t working in your life, to get angry or upset over the small things. However when you change your mind, putting your energy into what is working, joyfully and gratefully exclaiming what you adore about your life and that which you want to see more of, this is what will be compensated back to you. Put out into the world that which you desire to see in your own. What kind of world do you want to live in and what can you do to be all that this entails? No matter how small, or how big you can take action that is in alignment with the world you want; volunteering, choosing a vegan diet, giving to a charity, helping a friend with a difficult task, dedicating extra time with a parent or grandparent who takes pleasure in your company, and there are so many more.

law of compensation

The Law of Attraction

This law is probably one of the best known laws although it can leave people feeling empty when they fail to attract the results they desire. By better understanding this law you will be able to work with it and see results. The law of attraction is not a stand-alone one, but works in synchronicity with the others. To begin with you may start with this law, sending out mentally and emotionally that which you desire. Imagine what you desire as if it were here in this moment, what emotional response does this create within you, how do you feel in your body, your mind? Focus for a few minutes on this feeling, then express that outwards, be that which you want to attract. Neale Donald Walsch states that immediately after using your thoughts and feelings to focus on that which you desire, you will automatically invoke the law of opposites. Be prepared to draw to you the opposite of what you want, this is how the universe makes room for what you desire; first you send your desire out as energy, then your immediate experience is the opposite of that. How can you know companionship if at first you do not know loneliness? It may be harder at first, you may desire more company and then have your only friend move to a new town further away. Do no be disheartened this is the natural process. Hold to what you desire and continue to feel that which you desire as if it were here now.

This law states that the moment you declare anything, everything unlike it will come into the room. This is necessary in order to create a context within which what you choose to experience becomes possible. – Neale Donald Walsch

Whenever you are attempting to manifest anything in your life, the best way to speed this process up is to desire something that will be to the betterment of all humanity. Why is this important? Because the law of divine oneness tells us that we are all one. You may think you are here with 6 billion other human beings, but in fact this is just an illusion, we are all one; in fact you’re the only one in the room. So by desiring something that benefits all, you’re seeking to manifest that which will bring joy to all of yourself. The results will be tremendous, they will be manifested faster and almost certainly greater than you had hoped.

To see this in action lets take the desire for company, as an example, when you are feeling lonely, you might imagine and feel what its like to have people whose company you adore; you envision spending time together, having a great time. To help this to be something that is of benefit to numerous human beings you might instead imagine yourself lifting several new people out of loneliness, envisioning yourself lighting up their life with companionship, laughter and boosting their self worth. This second desire will likely come into affect a lot fast than the first. The first desire benefits only you, the second benefits many and this also gives you the clarity to see an opportunity for action which could be taken to help create this experience. In this instance that would be reaching out to people online or with a local advert to reach out to those whose life you can give great friendship to.

Christ: “Wherever two or more are gathered, there I am.” The point of that statement — and the point I am making here: Collective creation can be more powerful than individual creation. – Neale Donald Walsch

Lastly when you desire to manifest anything in your present reality be the source of what you desire. If you cause others to experience that which you desire to have or be then you become the source and are thus abundant in whatever your desire is. This is because it is usually easier to believe that other people may experience what you desire, more so than yourself. If your desire is for more money, cause others to have more money. Find someone who has less than you, no matter who it is, and give to them that which you desire. Offer to pay a bill for a loved one who is experiencing lack in finances, give money to a friend who could use a little extra or give generously to the person living on the streets. By causing another to have more money, you will create it in your own experience for yourself. Take a moment of gratitude each time you hold, spend or receive money; say thank you to the universe and through gratitude you will appreciate your present abundance and create room for more.

Change your perspective. Move from “I do not now have this,” to “I have always had this, and I have this now.” Then, act as if you do. Speak as if you do. Think as if you do. – Neale Donald Walsch

The Law of Perpetual Transmutation of Energy

This law states that all energy will flow into the world as physical form. The universe is set to “yes” and every thought you have is creative to some degree. You are constantly creating even on the smallest level, energy is constantly moving and your thoughts are constantly constructing reality. Whether your thoughts are in line with what you desire, or what you despise, you will have them as your experience; either in a small way like an advert on television or a big way like a life changing relationship or experience.

Energy from the formless realm is constantly flowing into the material world and taking form. This energy is limitless and inexhaustible. – Wallace D. Wattle

The best way you can work with this law is to be aware of your thoughts and begin the practice of actively choosing your thoughts, instead of living in a responsive state whereby your thoughts are a reaction to your current experience. At first this may seem difficult; to watch one’s thoughts can appear to take a lot of your mental energy. Although discipline at first takes practice eventually it becomes a practice done with ease. When you are in your first few days of working out (especially if you have never done it before) it can seem tiring and difficult, but with practice it can become a natural, daily practice. This practice of choosing your thoughts will benefit your worldly experience greatly.

When your thoughts are consistent, the law of energy will work clearly in your life.

It is the primary or dominant thoughts in your mind that are able to be used by this law, to turn energy into form. You can choose joy or peace in each moment by actively choosing your thoughts and if your consistent in these for long enough you will create in you the new belief that this active thought is your experience. Think it long enough that you believe it.

the law of energy

The Law of Relativity

This law states that what we perceive as real, can only be so by comparison to what surrounds it. Good and bad are relative terms, dependent purely on the definition of the other. Without this level of comparison everything would simply be, and behind the illusion this is exactly how it is, however with the law of relativity we are able to know the full spectrum of ourselves. If our soul’s desire is to know itself as the healer, then there must be someone with whom to heal, else the healer does not exist. Even the master healer holds her status because she empowers others to become their own healers.

When working with this law a good place to start is with language, we throw words like “good” and “bad” around a lot, more often than we’re aware. In truth no one is bad anymore than they are good. As part of your spiritual journey, whenever you feel yourself judging an action or choice others have made, whenever you use the word “bad” seek instead to understand how and why this occurred. No one makes a choice because they believe it to be “bad” but because this appears to be the best option to them at the time.

Nothing in life has meaning except for the meaning we give it. – Anon

The law of relativity has many benefits, but in regards to the language and judgements we choose it can be used in a way that is harmful and divisive to humanity. Replace judgement with understanding, make it your prerogative to understand another instead. This allows you to use the law in a beneficial way; not only will you be practicing non-judgement which will help you to see our divine oneness but you will also see this person or action as your teacher. They will be a sign post for what your soul is not trying to be, therefore by relative comparison showing your true self to you. When you see examples of what you are not, or what you do not wish to be, you can move away from that, and be inspired to be the change you desire to see in the world. Work with this law to see and be the truest version of yourself.

the law of relativity

 The Law of Polarity

This law states that in each thing, its opposite exists. The law of polarity allows for two completely different parts and yet in each seperate part is the possibility of the other. To help you understand this consider yourself, there is both dark and light in you; the potential to move away from your soul by taking part in that which is destructive holds within it space for you to choose its opposite – the path of enlightenment.

Any action has an equal and opposite reaction – Sir Isaac Newtown

Many of us have had the experience whereby something we deem to be tragic turns into our greatest blessing, pushes us to our highest path, allows us to meet our soulmate or awakens us spiritually in a way that nothing less “tragic” could. Even in the midst of a difficulty look deeply into it, ask yourself truthfully, what opposite can be experienced here? Whether this is simply in gaining a new understanding or perspective or whether this difficulty is your call to action to create a positive change, there is always the potential for the opposite. When working with this law be aware of the laws of divine oneness and relativity; remember that no one is “wrong” from their perspective, practice understanding. Make it your aim to find the good in the difficulty; love the profane as much as you love the profound.

the law of polarity

The Law of Rhythm

All cycles or energy in motion, can be viewed through the law of rhythm. Imagine a pendulum being pulled to the left, upon release it must move swiftly to the right. This is the universal dance, where one moves the other too must move; the sun setting allows the moon to rise. In nature we see this law in the seasons, planetary movements, the moon pulling the tide back and forth, everything in nature has a rhythm. For women this law of rhythm is experienced in our monthly cycle, others may experience this law by changing careers every seven years; all things have a cycle and such cycles move to this rhythm.

To work with this law recognize that everything you are experiencing is temporary. If you’re experiencing a time of pleasure, express gratitude and enjoy this moment however if you’re experiencing a difficult period in your life take solace in the knowledge that it too is temporary. This is the cycle of all things, however once you begin working with this law you can have tools at the ready to assist you with the challenging times such as meditation and movement. It is useful to apply mindfulness and present moment awareness to all aspects of life as this will help you to find balance no matter your external circumstance.

The Law of Rhythm

 The Law of Gender

This is the final law of the 12 universal laws, the law of gender. This law states that in all things there is both the feminine and the masculine. This law shows itself as one of duality. Within yourself you will experience both the feminine – powerful, nurturing, love, intuitive as well as the masculine – taking action, analytical, structured, protective. The law of gender exists regardless of your physical gender male or female and regardless of the gender you identify as: female, male, bi-gender, non-binary, a-gender, pan-gender or any other. This is also the case in spirit, as God or the universe is both female and male.

To work with this law practice balancing the feminine and masculine energy within you. In consciously balancing the two you also balance other states within yourself such as the soul and the ego. Try not to be overly defined by traditional gender roles in society as they can and have limited both women and men for centuries. For example as a woman you may feel limited in your career roles to feminine friendly jobs, as a man you may too feel limited to pro-masculine jobs. Try questioning these old ideas as they arise, replacing them with that which embraces both your feminine and masculine qualities.

the law of gender

Article by Suzi Maddock, July 30, 2017

The Art of Being Alone

May Sarton’s Stunning 1938 Ode to Solitude

“The best things in life happen to you when you’re alone,” artist Agnes Martin reflected in her final years. “Oh comforting solitude, how favorable thou art to original thought!” wrote the founding father of neuroscience in his advice to young scientists. The poet Elizabeth Bishop believed that everyone should experience at least one prolonged period of solitude in life. For in true solitude, as Wendell Berry so memorably observed, “one’s inner voices become audible [and] in consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives” — an intuitive understanding of what psychologists have since found: that “fertile solitude” is the basic unit of a full and contented life.

But in the neutral state of aloneness, the psychoemotional line between solitude and loneliness can be as thin as a razor’s edge and as lacerating to the soul. How to draw it skillfully in orienting ourselves to the world, exterior and interior, is what poet, novelist, and memoirist May Sarton (May 3, 1912–July 16, 1995) explores in a beautiful poem she penned ten days after her twenty-sixth birthday, decades before she came to contemplate solitude in stunning prose. Originally titled “Considerations,” the poem was slightly revised and published the following year as “Canticle 6” in Sarton’s second poetry collection, the altogether sublime Inner Landscape.

by May Sarton

Alone one is never lonely: the spirit
adventures, waking
In a quiet garden, in a cool house, abiding single there;
The spirit adventures in sleep, the sweet thirst-slaking
When only the moon’s reflection touches the wild hair.
There is no place more intimate than the spirit alone:
It finds a lovely certainty in the evening and the morning.
It is only where two have come together bone against bone
That those alonenesses take place, when, without warning
The sky opens over their heads to an infinite hole in space;
It is only turning at night to a lover that one learns
He is set apart like a star forever and that sleeping face
(For whom the heart has cried, for whom the frail hand burns)
Is swung out in the night alone, so luminous and still,
The waking spirit attends, the loving spirit gazes
Without communion, without touch, and comes to know at last
Out of a silence only and never when the body blazes
That love is present, that always burns alone, however steadfast.

from Brain Pickings, 12/01/2017

How to Detect When People Are Using the Truth to Lie to You

from LifeHacker

There are three types of lies: omission, where someone holds out on the facts; commission, where someone states facts that are untrue; and paltering, where someone uses true facts to mislead you. It’s not always easy to detect, but there are a few telltale signs.

A recent study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggests the practice of paltering is pretty common, especially among business executives. Not only that, but the people who do it don’t seem to think they’re doing anything wrong—despite the fact that most people feel like it’s just as unethical and untrustworthy as intentional lies of commission. It’s not just execs who do it, though. If you’ve ever tried to buy a used car from a slimy salesman, been in a salary negotiation with a tough as nails boss, or watched basically any presidential debate, you’ve definitely seen paltering in action.

For example, that slimy used car salesman might say that the old beater you’re looking at “starts up great” and that “these are reliable models” when you ask how it runs, but neglects to mention that the engine of that particular vehicle dies regularly. He didn’t lie to you, but he didn’t tell you the truth either. Jimmy McGill (AKA Saul Goodman), the main character from AMC’s Better Call Saul, is another great example of a pro palterer.

Paltering works so well because it’s not a lie in the way we think of lies, making it harder to accuse someone of doing it. After all, how do you tell someone they’re lying if you know they’re telling the truth. And more often than not, falsely accusing someone of lying makes you look worse than the accused. Paltering is also an easy way to distract someone with things they want to hear. Again, the used car salesman in our example above is giving you information that makes you feel more comfortable about purchasing the car. It may not be information that you asked for, but your brain takes their response as an answer by association. You start to think, “If it starts up great, and the model is reliable in general, this one must run okay,” because why else would he have told you that stuff?

So how do you spot this type of deception? Here are a few tips:

  • Know when to expect it: Paltering is common in business negotiations of all types, politics, and sales, but the tactic can also be used in personal relationships when the pressure is on.
  • Listen to their language: In the book Deception: From Ancient Empires to Internet Dating, Frederick Shauer and Richard Zeckhauser suggest you watch for exaggeration or vague language. For example, when a real estate agent describes a location as “highly desirable,” or when a restaurant’s signature dish is “famous.” That listing may be highly desirable, but by who? That signature dish might be a famous item, but only at that restaurant. Does it feel like you’re just being told what you want to hear?
  • Yes or no questions have power: Listen to the way someone answers a simple yes or no question. Open-ended questions give palterers more wiggle room to conjure true, semi-related information and use it to side-step the main issue. But with a yes or no question, all they should be responding with is either “yes” or “no.” If they’re not, something is probably up.
  • Keep questions focused if you get to ask them: If you’re the one who gets to ask the questions, keep them focused. You want to ask yes or no questions that bypass the possibility of paltering. For example, if you were to ask a significant other if they were cheating on you, don’t ask, “Are you cheating on me?” What if the affair was over by the time you asked? They could tell you the truth by saying, “No, I’m not cheating on you.” You should instead ask strict questions like, “Are you now, or have you ever, cheated on me?” The only answers are “yes” or “no.”
  • Only accept answers to the questions asked: Whether you’re watching someone answer other people’s questions, or asking the questions yourself, train yourself to reject unrelated answers. Don’t let your brain forget what the question actually was! If the person answering questions responds with related facts, long explanations, or questions of their own, assume they are paltering.

Lying by telling the truth is, unfortunately, highly effective and we’re all pretty used to it by now, so detecting it will take some practice. Remember, just because what you’re hearing is true doesn’t mean they’re not talking around the issue. Don’t just seek the truth; seek the right truth.


The Ways In Which I’m Broken, The Ways In Which I’ve Healed

It’s always difficult to go deep in writing, especially when it’s a topic of incredible pain and sensitivity. The healing process is long and arduous. However, that first tentative step toward wholeness requires that we see our broken places without justification or prejudice.

We cannot heal without the acknowledgement that we’re broken in the first place.

It’s the tearing off of the bandage from our wounds. It’s the strength to see our wounds for what they are: broken places.

There are those fear-filled people who will try to keep us down, press their thumb upon us because they don’t want us to heal. It’s a frightening process. We’ve been broken for so long, we fear we won’t know who we are if we change. That we won’t recognize ourselves in the mirror. Why do others fear our healing? Because they identify with our wounds and are too afraid to look that closely at them or try to fix themselves. They might not know how, or their fear might be in control of their thoughts and feelings.


We’re all broken in our own ways. Some recognize it and are willing to do the heavy inner lifting required to strive toward wholeness. And be sure, it’s hard work. Perhaps the hardest work we’ll ever do in our lives.

“People that have trust issues only need to look in the mirror. There they will meet the one person that will betray them the most.”  ― Shannon L. Alder

The first step is to allow the idea that we’re broken to motivate us. Not toward laziness and forgetting, but toward staring those wounds straight on and saying, “I see you.” We must name our broken pieces so that they become real and not some abstract concept that languishes forever inside us.

The second step is perhaps the more difficult. It’s the moment you stare yourself in the eyes and say, “I love you.” Not a fake-it-till-you-make-it statement, but said with meaning and Truth. And then you actually have to believe it. This is where many stumble and crawl back to their inner darkness to hide.

Perhaps as children we were told we are worthless, not worth a single kindness. These damaging types of statements take many forms. We don’t need to forgive those who make such statements. Not yet. First we must forgive ourselves, because we feel that we somehow deserved those verbal arrows aimed at our hearts, at our fragile minds. That’s how our child-minds takes ownership of such vitriol. And that inner child does not heal on his or her own. They await a hand of friendship and love to help them heal, or our adult selves cannot move on.

It’s a process, and it surely doesn’t happen in a day, or a week, or even a year. I’ve been focused on healing since I first acknowledged the brokenness in 1997. Someday, I told myself. I don’t have time right now. I’m too busy. I’m too distracted. 

Do you recognize the voice of FEAR convincing you not to act? Have you said those same things to yourself?

Fear is a mind killer. It numbs us and keeps us from acting in our own best interests. It took me since 1997 until 2017 to begin feeling that I have healed some of my most broken places.

Can I tell you what it feels like to finally begin feeling whole? Oh, I know I’m a work in progress. We all are. But we must honor our process. It’s different for every single person on this beautiful planet we live on.


It’s when we no longer try to hide our brokenness, because we know we’re working on it. It’s when we can look our naysayers in the eye with kindness and gratitude because we understand where they are on their path, and what they must eventually go through when they acknowledge their own brokenness. It’s difficult to have patience with them, because we’ve come so far ourselves. However, it’s not up to us to fix them. Our kindest gesture is to recognize their brokenness and not condemn them for it.

It’s when we accept responsibility for our brokenness despite the fact that it’s not our fault. We can take ownership without breaking even further.

It’s when you recognize FEAR as your nemesis and set out to wrest control away from it.

It’s when you can stand up in front of your peers or your friends or your family and state: I know where I went off the path, and I now know how to get back on. I was once afraid of your judgment and lack of understanding. Now I know that judgment is a fear-based action, and lack of understanding is merely because I have not been able to look you in the eye and admit that I’m broken. I’m working as hard as I can to heal. 

It’s when you can look yourself in the eye and say, I love you, and mean it. Once you’re able to do that, nothing and no one can push you off your Path, or judge your Truth.


There are so many ways in which we can get help if we feel unable to help ourselves. Asking for help is not weakness, but shows more courage and commitment than any other kindness you can show to yourself.

I sought help when I was at my lowest, calling a national crisis line because I wanted everything — including my life — to just go away. I was placed on a psych-eval hold in a hospital, then transferred to an in-patient facility. I rebelled against it with everything I had. It took more than a week to understand that it was not a punishment, but a lifesaving resource. By the time I left that place, I knew I could do it, I could heal without resorting to histrionics or suicidal ideation. While there, I got the therapy and the medications I needed to start the steepest climb, the hardest part. Today, I’m off the medications, and well on my way to getting back on my Path, to recognizing my Truth.

Most of all, I love myself more than I’ve ever been able to. That’s a long time to go without. But — and this I promise you — it’s never to late to begin. Right now. Right where you are. There is no plan, no rules. Imagine what it will feel like when you’re healing. Imagine what it feels like when fear is no longer your taskmaster, cracking that mental whip.

It’s a worthy goal. The payoff is tremendous.



7 Ways to Become a More Authentic Person


Maybe I’m just a product of my generation, but I read self-help books, and I work on my “baggage.”

I know someone somewhere reading this may think that my generation, and the one following—the millennials—are a little too self-centered for our own good.

And, people who think that may also consider “me-centered” as selfish, disrespectful, and rude.

I get it. This is the generation that made reality television a thing and has elevated people to stardom who may not have much talent or skill. I can really see why an older generation would look at us and shake their heads.

But, here’s what’s wrong with that line of thinking:

As young women, we were raised not to think of ourselves. We were told to put others first and take care of ourselves last. Every message we got growing up taught us that our value lies in who we are to other people.

Our perceived worth lies in those relationships, and in how we look, how we present ourselves, and how quietly and respectfully we interact with the world around us. We’re told that we should keep our legs together, but not be a prude. We should plan our dream wedding, our two children (one of each sex), and we should clock in and out of church the way we do work. We should cook and clean and take care of our children, even if we’re holding down full-time jobs. And, we should just pass the man the beer.

We should sacrifice for our families and never make time for ourselves. And, we shouldn’t love our bodies. Because how will we feel bad enough to buy the stuff that the advertisers need us to keep buying? We need to look younger, be firmer, thinner, have more cleavage, display our curves—but not too much—or we’re asking for it.

And as for young men? The message is to “man up, “grow a pair.” And, “boys don’t cry.” After all, you’re the man of the house, the breadwinner. Take care of your families. Play sport. Do manly things. Drink beer. If you give a hug, accompany it with a manly back slap.

Don’t express feelings…except anger. Anger is an okay feeling to show. Don’t cry. And, it’s okay to sleep around and equally okay to hold a double standard that says women shouldn’t. Rape culture is the locker room talk they many men up with and the talk on the street, in classrooms, and at home. Catcalling and ass grabbing and “she’s asking for it.” Be competitive, work harder, and chase women.

But, we grow up, and a lot of us see that what we were taught to be and who we actually are, are vastly different things.

Yes, we start turning the focus in on ourselves. But, our focus isn’t about being selfish or narcissistic. Instead, we work to undo the things that we’ve learned have hurt us. We investigate our thoughts and feelings and trace them back to the source, to those messages that told us who we are and who we should strive to be, and we start to dismantle them.

We take better care of ourselves so that we can take care of our families and contribute to society as full, functional, happy, and healthy human beings, rather than automatons who function purely on what we were told to think and feel and do.

We’re not about being spectacularly selfish. Instead, we’re trying to become the people we really are, and we’re doing it when society tells us to be quiet, sit down, and follow the crowd. We’re the social justice warriors and the dreamers and the people with the vision to know that the world has the capacity to be a better, happier, and more peaceful place.

By un-learning all of the lessons that taught us that we weren’t enough, we learn how to give of ourselves in a way that makes us whole, rather than depletes our precious energy.

But how? How do we begin to dismantle the self we were told to be, and become the ones that we are?

  1. We listen to our intuition. Our intuition is that quiet sense of what’s right for us and what’s not. It may not seem rational or logical, but it always knows what we need. Sometimes, we have to be quiet and still inside of ourselves to truly be able to hear it.
  2. We stop listening to that critical voice in our heads. Yes, that one. The one that says we’re not enough or we’re too much. The one that undermines our confidence and reinforces our fears. That voice is the voice of others who have spent their lives judging and assigning roles and spreading fear. Maybe it’s the voice of authority figures or family members or our culture. It says no and don’t and can’t, and it doesn’t serve our souls.
  3. We make a list of the priorities of our lives on one side and our actual daily schedule on the other. We compare the lists. Are the things we want in life, our deepest priorities and dreams, showing up in what we actually do on a daily basis? If not, there are changes we need to make.
  4. We need to pay attention to cognitive dissonance. If we only ever believe the things we want to and the only truth that we hear is the one we like hearing, there’s something wrong. We need to be equipped to take in new information. We can’t adapt if we’re not willing to look at our own behaviors and call out the undesirable ones. We can’t make the changes we need if we don’t stay open to the world around us and the feedback we’re getting, not only from the people around us, but by the experiences the universe sends our way. We need to make sure that we are receptive to the truth even if it’s unpleasant for us and requires hard work to make changes.
  5. We can seek professional help. There’s a stigma around that statement. Even I could hear it echoing around the words “professional help” as I wrote them. But, we don’t treat ourselves for medical problems, typically. And, we let mechanics work on our cars. We trust professionals for a variety of tasks, and yet we’re so reluctant to reach out and say that we need help to work through our baggage.
  6. We can learn to accept ourselves. I just listened to Sounds True’s Self-Acceptance Summit, and I loved every moment of it! The overriding message was that we need to accept who we are, to be body positive, and to really practice the love, compassion, and forgiveness that we so easily give to others with ourselves. We won’t be happy when we lose 20 pounds or when we run that marathon or when we get the promotion we want or have the next child. We won’t be happy as long as we’re chasing a set of circumstances rather than loving our lives as they are right now.
  7. We can meditate every day, even if it’s only for five minutes. Get quiet. Get still. Listen. How can we know who we are if we never stop and listen?

We’re not a selfish generation, at least not entirely. So many of us are working hard to dismantle the armor we were told to wear so that we can find our truest, most vulnerable selves.

We’re removing the layers and finding others. At the heart of it all is this love for our lives and for humanity that can’t get out as long as we’re wrapped in layers of should and can’t and don’t.

from The Elephant Journal, 10/7/2017

Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Ciao/Pexels
Editor: Lieselle Davidson