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Current Goal: Love Josh as he is now. Keep loving until all of me is free. (Nothing can move when it’s stuck. Love is the ultimate unstucker.)

Destination: Fully integrated Josh. Everything is loved and accounted for. (Now that I love all of me, I can choose freely from my full potential.)

The Journey That Led Me Here

  1. First I identified why I don’t set goals:
    a. It (almost) never works! I set a goal, and then it doesn’t happen, but something way better happens instead, so why even try to control my life?
    b, Goal setting turns desires into have-tos. (Somehow challenges work better because the commitment feels exciting instead of obligatory.)
    c. Goal setting focuses me on outcome, which focuses me on control, which takes me out of flow and cripples me with thoughts of right and wrong.
  2. Next I explored what I would be a yes to:
    a. Everything is amendable
    b. Everything is a choice
    c. Goals that serve me instead of enslaving me
    d. Goals that give me permission to say no to stuff I would’ve previously felt obligated to do
    e. Big goals that inspire me in big ways
  3. Then I got specific:
    Goal: Create a world where anyone can make a living just by being themselves.
    Exploration: This requires knowing yourself. If creating that world starts by me creating that reality for myself, then the journey starts with me knowing myself.
    This goal felt somewhat inspiring, but somewhat vague. So I created a Goal Setting Consensus Convention and invited all my parts to sit down for a few hours of journaling and self-discovery. (I’ll deep dive into the convention tomorrow.)

Closing questions:
1) What practices do you use to deepen your relationship with yourself and your goals?
2) What parts of this process did you find inspiring?

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Two people doing the exact same thing can get wildly different results.

Notice how you respond differently to a salesperson genuinely interested in connecting with you, vs one who’s asking the exact same questions in an effort to convince you to buy what they’re selling. Feel how attracted you are to someone who’s happy with who they are and genuinely interested in getting to know you better, vs someone who’s insecure and approaching you in hopes of winning your approval. Imagine two people asking for the exact same favor; one of them thinks it’s normal and natural to ask for help, the other asks begrudgingly, silently shaming themselves for not being able to do it on their own.

Same actions, different motivations. Which ones are you more likely to respond positively to?

The thing the latter person in each example has in common is that even if you give them what they want, they’re less likely to genuinely thank you for it. Because they’re not actually motivated by their true desires (connection, curiosity, ease), but by some approximation that they hope will bring them closer to their desires (more money, approval, pushing through).

That true desire makes the difference between inspiration and desperation. Both are perfectly valid forms of motivation, but one of them gives you energy while the other expends it.

When I write from a place of trying to be perfect, writing is hard. I’m not motivated by helping people or expressing myself (energy giving), I’m motivated by avoiding criticism and shame (energy expending).

When I write as an act of discovering the words that want to flow through me, it’s a joy. I bring curiosity instead of criticism. The creative process becomes an act of letting love flow through me, rather than a trial to prove my worth.

I can focus on the action and push myself to write every day no matter what. Or I can focus on the motivation and discovering what would actually inspire me to love the daily ritual of writing.

The sweet spot is to commit to taking action in a loving way. If I’m going to write every day no matter what, it’s no longer a question of what I’m choosing to do, but how much I’m willing to love myself along the way.

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1) It’s not your problem unless you can change it.

If you can’t change it, you’re no longer focused on the problem — you’re focused on your resistance to the problem. The more fully you accept what you can’t change, the more fully you can apply yourself to what you can change, increasing your chances of becoming the solution you desire.

2) The only thing that saps your energy is misusing your own energy.

In the absence of friction, you will be in continual flow. Anytime someone or something brings you down, you’re taking external friction and replicating it internally. When you meet friction with curiosity, your energy spikes instead of crashing. But when you meet it with judgment, you define it as a problem, condemning some part of you to suffer until it’s solved.

3) Control is a luxury expense.

Spend it lavishly in areas you love engaging and creating in, and be as thrifty as possible everywhere else. Life is too short to try to control everything that appears important. If you don’t deeply enjoy customizing something to your heart’s content, then your passion lies elsewhere. Once you find your soulmate, you won’t care how shitty the rest of the dating pool is. You will spend your energy enjoying what’s in front of you, instead of trying to change what’s in front of you into something you enjoy.

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Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.

Brené Brown

If I surrender to shame I would judge myself harshly for that which I’m ashamed of.

If I surrender to judgment I would blame myself for everything I didn’t do differently.

If I surrender to blame, I would feel ashamed about who I am.

So I surrender to acceptance.

I accept that shame prevents authentic self-expression, but I ultimately get to choose between the two.

I accept that judgment is a cue to review my values — If I’m in alignment with my values, I can confidently stand for what I believe in. If something doesn’t sit right, I can explore whether I’m failing my values or my values are failing me.

I accept that blame is a form of discharging energy — The better I get at grounding it, the more it energizes me; thus breaking the blame cycle by not passing it on or taking it personally.

I accept that surrender allows for enemies to become friends, obstacles to become advantages, and short-term setbacks to become long-term shortcuts.

I want to embrace life as a friend, challenges as an advantage, and setbacks as an opportunity to lighten my load.

When I die, I’m not taking any of this with me. So why fret over controlling it all? Why not surrender to the gift each moment has to offer and let life make the most of me, instead of striving to make the most out of life?

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What if this was the worst poem ever penned?
Would I still be worthy of your connection?
“I can’t risk losing you, I won’t make it alone!”
Though I wonder aloud about the future I’ve sown.

Words sentenced to silence by the courts of perfection.
Rejected by a man terrified of rejection.
What thoughts lie beyond this fearful filter?
Yearning to escape the prison I’ve built here?

They clink their cups against metal bars,
sounds uncaptured in unwritten memoirs.
They yearn to be heard, but I ignore them;
to maintain an image, itself an illusion.

I’m seen a thousand different ways
by a thousand different souls,
none of which are under my controls.
All I choose is how I see,
what I love, and who I be.

Yet I cast myself into the pits of hell,
with every word I lock inside a cell.
Neurons negated by neuroticism.
Self-actualization! …rotting in prison.

This prison I’ve built inside my mind
holds a million Josh’s frozen in time.
It’s all the me’s I never let myself be.
Too busy trying to control reality.

But today I stand with pen in hand,
courage summoned by my command.
These demons dined for far too long,
on unfounded fears that to err is wrong.

Mistakes are creativity in its purest form.
Yet they played no role in what I made my norm.
Well fuck that shit, my time has come.
I’ve towed the line, now it comes undone.

I write to shape the world I see.
I write to free a beastly me.
I write to claim my voice as mine.
I write to let my brilliance shine.

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Last night, I invited a colleague to do an integrity scrub of my healing services. Someone who’s very sensitive to healer’s being even the slightest bit “off.”

As I’ve grown as a healer, my sessions have gotten increasingly less controlled. The only thing I do these days is create a container in which trust is possible, and then trust that whatever wants to happen, will.

I create that trust by being vulnerable. Owning, as best I can, when even the slightest bit of “not trust” is present in my system. Which requires A LOT of trust on my part.

There are parts of me that think, “How can we be of service by admitting all the ways in which we are falling short of our stated intention? Aren’t we supposed to be the expert who models how to do something excellently? Aren’t we supposed to focus on them and not us?”

But to cave into those fears would only limit the shape of what can happen in our time together. Trust is trust. Any effort to control is not trust. What’s ultimately healing is not what I can do for someone else, but what they learn to allow in themselves.

So, after setting the container, permissioning co-creation, and sitting in the silence necessary to discover what wants happen, the first thing that arose in me were fears and insecurities of doing this wrong. So I voiced my insecurities. Even though one of the first things she said to me from the outset was that the most common way that healers fail their clients is by not being able to hold themselves while holding the container.

If what was true for me meant that I was failing as a healer, then I had to risk that. I couldn’t just sweep my truth away in hopes of appearing to be a good healer. I want to become the best healer I can. And I can’t do that if I don’t allow myself to heal along the way.

I can hear the critics saying, “Do your healing on your own time, you’re supposed to be there for the client!” But I can’t count the number of times where the healing that wanted to happen with a client required me to go somewhere I’d never gone before to help them. The more I’m willing to upgrade in real time, the more doors we can open together.

It’s like that scene from The Matrix where Neo asks Trinity if she knows how to fly the helicopter, and she calmly replies, “Not yet.” before instructing Tank to give her the pilot program that teachers her how to fly it right then and there. Imagine her saying, “Sorry, I’m here to rescue Morpheus. It would be selfish to grow as a person while doing so. My apologies for ruining the film.” 🤷

Anyway, back to the healing session. I share my insecurities. Trust is built. Compassion shared. And the shape that the healing session ends up taking is that a young, brilliant part in her ends up leading and teaching me.

Can you imagine a chef inviting a food critic to give him a review and then saying, “I noticed that you brought your little one. Instead of feeding you off of the menu, how about we let her tell me her favorite foods and how she wants them prepared and trust the creation will delight us all?”

Y’all. That’s exactly what ends up happening.

I surrender control. I connect with this little one. She starts teaching me all sorts of things about how I avoid grief, and the wisdom I lose access to by doing so.

“The deeper you allow grief, the deeper you allow love.”

At some point I slip back into adulting and she feels unmet, so I surrender once more and my body drops to the floor, and I end up crawling under my bed. I don’t know why I’m crawling under my bed, but I trust it.

Turns out that grief and loss are some of my deepest fears. Even deeper than rejection and abandonment (because rejection and abandonment lead to grief and loss). And when I’m under my bed I realize, “This is where monsters are alleged to be. When I embrace grief and loss, I realize there’s nothing to fear.”

Then, at the very end, while debriefing, we unpacked that what this little one wanted most was to be seen by someone else. Not just her and her mom. My willingness to see her brilliance and play with her on her level was exactly what was needed.

How Much Can Your Trust Hold?

I’m starting to learn that the wider I can hold trust, the more easily life can bless me.

Narrow trust defines success narrowly. If life drifts outside my desired range, I either have to risk failure or nudge my life back toward how I define success.

Wide trust gives success a wide berth. I don’t need to control the outcome because I can trust nearly any possible outcome, and that it will eventually lead to success.

This gives me tremendous freedom. And it’s something I want to invite more and more people to create for themselves.

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Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use.

The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castañeda

One full day into my commitment to greater attunement, I’ve already discovered something powerful.

My felt sense, my ability to feel in a discerning way, is capable of guiding me far more accurately than any degree of intelligent thinking. I notice it most when listening to others, because the act of listening gets me out of my own way.

How I Help Others Find a Path with Heart

👂 I listen
💭 I receive thought
💓 I feel
💖 I light up
🔊 I share

If I don’t light up 🖤, I don’t share 🔇.

I pass on traveling down a rabbit hole 🐇 that will surely sound interesting 🤔, but is not a path with heart 💔.

A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.

A path with heart feels good to walk. The juice is not in the imagined destination, it’s in the air as I walk there. I’m not wandering through a dessert looking to turn any sign of life into a story that I’ve reached an oasis, I’m jaunting through a rainforest teeming with the full beauty of life’s wonders, pointing at all the beauty I see.

Notes on my process:

👂 Listening requires quiet. The more I trust the process, the easier it is to discover where the moment is leading us.

💭 Receiving thought is different than generating thought. I’m not thinking so much as sifting through thought that arises as I listen.

💓 Feeling is simple. If it’s complicated or confusing, I’m thinking.

💖 Lighting up is obvious. If it’s not obvious, I’m not lighting up.

🔊 The excitement comes in lighting up, sharing feels grounded. When I’m really on, words will keep lighting me up as I share them, but that’s because I’m discovering them as I speak. Discovery brings the juice. Delivery is an act of service. If I’m excited about the delivery, I’m probably attached to someone else’s response.

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For years, the easiest way for me to stay safe was to hold back. Filter. Let the other person be vulnerable first.

Gradually, I found ways of trusting myself enough to be vulnerable around safe people. This accelerated after finding Authentic Relating in 2019 and having lots of affirming experiences with strangers in safe containers (as well as expanding my own connection skill set), but I still had a “prove to me that you’re trustworthy before I let my guard down” mentality.

That mentality acted as a safety script. Whenever I was in any situation that had previously led to pain, I defaulted to the safest known way of behaving.

Unfortunately these scripts were created long before I reached emotional maturity, and were mostly designed to protect me from other emotionally immature, unattuned people that I grew up around. The scripts weren’t designed to bring forth my most authentic self, or create closeness and connection once I finally found my tribe.

Then in late June, something happened. I was in a healing session where I revealed that I was running one of these safety scripts, and the healer invited me to tune in and actually see if she was safe or not right now. 🤯

Wow. Years of assuming that everyone was unsafe until proven otherwise instantly got replaced with the practice of tuning in to see what is true right now. I spent the next week tuning into everyone I could to notice all the nuance that arose in connection when I did.

As fate would have it, I had my first date with my now partner that week and my ability to tune in inspired her to enter me into her phone as “Josh The Oracle.” I shudder to think what she might have named me had I still been running safety scripts, or if our relationship would’ve survived weeks of social distancing if I was emotionally distancing from her as well.

In August, I would take my attunement skills even deeper, during a weekend long retreat. Four days of spiritual teachings around attunement, playing with overtuned and undertuned energy, and all the ways being too self-contained (e.g. safety script Josh) can hold us back. That weekend inspired me to shed another layer of armor and brought me closer to my partner and myself.

Now I find myself in the most supportive and fulfilling relationship of my life. A relationship built on continual attunement to truth, instead of ungrounded fantasy, or falling in love with idealized versions of each other.

Today I’m making a commitment to taking my attunement even deeper. Inspired by an intuitive reader who invited me to trust my awareness and integrity and be less humble, I’ve decided to fully lean into my ability to discover truth instead of holding back my intuition in fear of being wrong.

Deep breath.

This feels like escape velocity. Leaving behind the familiar to embark on the hero’s journey.

I don’t know where my path will wind, but I know I’m going to invite all the support I need along the way.

Life is too short to play small forever. Thank you for continually encouraging me to play bigger. ❤️

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What’s the difference between someone challenging you in ways that bring up discomfort, or attempting to manipulate you in ways that bring up protectors?

There’s a fine line between challenge and gaslighting. Challenge has an element of excitement to it. Gaslighting leads to bewilderment.

If you’re confused or questioning yourself, then chances are whoever is challenging you isn’t seeing you. If they saw you, it would feel like being exposed to an uncomfortable but liberating truth, not being confused by an uncomfortable projection.

Confusion is a cue for clarity. If you can’t understand why someone is doing something, try putting yourself in their shoes instead.

“Oh… this person is feeling stretched thin and wanting help stopping the bleeding. What I see as honoring an agreement that’s already generous, they see as, ‘you have the opportunity to help me, please help me out.’”

From this perspective, it’s so much easier to see things clearly. “They’re not treating me this way because I deserve it. They’re treating me this way because they’re desperate for help.”

This defuses any gaslighting, because it’s no longer about me, and turns it into a growth opportunity.

I have the opportunity to grow more generous. Or grow better boundaries. Or grow better communication and empathy skills.

This person’s behavior isn’t about me, but I’m still at choice as to how I respond. And I will grow in whatever direction I choose.

For more information on what inspired this content, check out the following Non-Violent Communication articles: Transforming Enemy Images and Transforming Enemy Images in the Workplace

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Ever since quarantine started my inner world has gotten louder. Or maybe my outer world simply quieted down.

It’s not uncommon for me to hear my parts speaking through me. Sometimes in jubilant joy. Others in tragic cries for help.

It’s the tragic cries for help that understandably garner the most attention. But they’re also the thing I’ve acted on least.

That’s probably a good thing, given how some of these parts feel. If parts of me want to die but the bulk of me has a strong desire to live, it’s not easy to negotiate a compromise. So I just keep on living, while those parts of me keep on suffering.

Recently though, I’ve discovered a new response. When I hear a part crying out for help, I find myself saying, “How can I make inroads?” “How can I support you?” And I actually get a response.

“Love me. Hold me. Tell me everything’s going to be OK.”

Honoring these simple requests goes a long way. It really does feel like soothing a child who’s going through something you can’t immediately alleviate. I may not be able to immediately change the conditions that stir fear in these parts, but I can build a loving relationship with them. I can choose to truly be with them so they don’t feel like they’re going through this alone.

The more inroads I build toward these under-loved parts, the more safe I feel as a whole. Perhaps because these parts are more easily impacted by decisions the rest of me thinks it can safely ignore. Like the rich living safely above flood levels, not caring how well the levees are built.

The more I listen, the more I build system-wide safety and invite these parts of me to contribute to a more prosperous future for all of us. And that’s a future that every part of me is excited to co-create.

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