Category Archives: Fear

Living with hate

For the first time in a while I’ve had a request to write about something specific.  As I can imagine you’ve heard, on Sunday morning in the early hours a man walked in to a night club and killed 49 people, injuring many more.  We have ideas about why, and we have his phone call to 911 claiming what he did for Isis, but there are many many unknowns.  What we do know is he had hate in his heart.  He has had hate in his heart for a very long time, long enough that the FBI had him on a watch list.  This hate, for whatever reason, was used to destroy the lives of hundreds of people.  The families and loved ones of those that died, the families and friends and loved ones of those that have been injured, are changed forever.  They  have been touched by hate.

There are many possibilities about why this man decided to kill as many people as he could.  A plausible one is that he himself was gay, and he was fighting the edicts of his own religion, his own mental health, his hatred for his own desires, and turned all of that pain on to others.  We will never know exactly what was going through his head, but we do know that he had hate in his heart.  Whether it was for others or for himself, or both we will never know.  But no matter his reasons for his actions, we now have a couple of choices.

The first choice we have is to turn to fear and hatred ourselves.  We can demonize his actions as being through his religion, through his mental health, or his race and we can start our own attacks through fear and hate.  We can spread the hate as far and as wide as we can.  Based on my Facebook feed this is what some people have chosen to do.  We can turn to blame, working to find the who to point the finger at.  We can demand an eye for an eye, and seek justice from anyone that shares anything with that man. If we choose that route we will have to remember that those that we hurt will want their vengeance as well.  They will want their pound of flesh, and their eye as well.

If we choose fear we will end up feeling bitter, angry and powerless,  terrified of full of hate.  With fear we have the choice of fighting or running.  We can run, and hide.  We can choose to never leave our homes, never get on a plane or go to a club or run a race.  We can hide, or we can fight.  And when we fight we will make more people have hatred as we hurt and maim and kill others in our fight for justice.

That is not the path I want.  I do not want to hide, cowering in my home to avoid all possibility of getting hurt by someone’s hatred.  There is a big world out there, and I want to experience all I can.  I also don’t want to keep the hatred going, punishing whomever I can for my pain and my hurt.  The other option that I have is to be one of the helpers.

Fred Rogers often told this story about when he was a boy and would see scary things on the news: “My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

The helpers are the ones that will bring us back together.  Helping people heal, both physically and emotionally from the immediate trauma is the first step.  If you aren’t able to help at that immediate level, then help those closest to you that are reeling.  Remind them that people in general are good people.  Remind them that being a good person and spreading kindness is the best way to heal.

Don’t get me wrong, I do want to take action and make sure you cant get a magazine of 100 rounds for a weapon.  That is ridiculous.  I will write to my congressman and support legislation to this purpose.  I do want to take realistic steps when I can to make sure things don’t happen.   What isn’t helpful is pointing fingers, doling out hate, yelling at people that have no involvement, or cowering.

This has been a traumatic event that has affected so many people.  There are so many stories floating around, it is easy to get sucked in to the anger and the fear-mongering.  One man was able to cause all of this.  For whatever reason, he took a weapon and his hate and hurt and hurt as many people as he could.  I’m sure that each and every one of us has our own belief about this man, who he was, why he did what he did, and what should happen next.  What many of us forget is the kindnesses that are needed to grieve, survive and thrive.  I for one won’t let anger and hate keep me from living the life I want to live.  A life of exploration, of kindness, and finding beauty wherever I can.  This is how we heal. This is how we fight.

My heart is with every mother, father, sister, brother, boyfriend, girlfriend, and friend that lost someone in that club.  My heart is with everyone that was there and was part of the terror of a crazed man with a gun.  We won’t stop him with more hate.  He will continue to hurt all of us if we do this.  We will stop him with hope and kindness.  With reminders that there is beauty in the world, even when there is ugliness and hate.  That acts of great courage will always defeat acts of anger, fear and hate.

Being a Misfit

We all have Misfit Moments.  Some more than others.  Sometimes we feel alone in in our lack of ability to fit in.  Please experience this video about a misfit on  Let yourself feel the moments that you think “OH my god!  I’ve done that!”  “I’ve felt that way!”.  Notice that you aren’t alone in struggling, misfiring, keeping yourself stuck in shame, and not believing you are deserving.  You aren’t alone, and you can overcome!


Even at the moment of your failure, you’re beautiful.  You don’t know it yet, but you have the ability to re-invent yourself endlessly.  That’s your beauty.  No matter you’re failure your story deserves to be heard.  You can be standing dead center in the middle of your failure.  Because you are the only one in the room that can tell the story the way you would.  And I’d be listening.

Lydia Yuknavitch

Understanding the ego

I was once told that the ego is the part of the self that regards itself as real. This implies that the ego is not the self, it is the idea of the self that defines what is. The ego defines if something is good or bad, likeable or not, right or wrong. It also decides what you can and can’t do, correct or not.

An interesting example of this is women and math. There is a belief put out that girls are bad at math, and boys are good at math. Because of this belief boys are taught differently than girls in school. A review of 100 classes across the country found that boys will be walked through the problem, while girls will be shown how to do the problem. When a girl struggles with a concept they were often told “Don’t worry about it, a lot of girls aren’t good at math”. This affects how girls see themselves when it comes to math, affecting their belief in their ability to do it, reinforcing the concept that boys are good at math and girls are bad. The ego, the self, starts to believe this creating anxieties about math, leading to teens and women believing that they are bad at math. This is a belief that isn’t necessarily true, but the self that regards itself as real does.

It is important to begin to differentiate between what you CAN do, and what you CAN do, but the ego is afraid to do or thinks it can’t. Think for a second about going to see a movie on your own on a Friday night. Some of you will think “No problem, what’s the big deal?”. Some of you will look at this as an inconceivable challenge that you would never be able to do. What is the difference between the two of you? Your ego.

We think of someone with a big ego as being full of themselves. We see a big ego as cocky or narcissistic. What it takes to go to the movies by yourself on a Friday night, braving couples and judgmental teens is a strong ego. It takes a confidence of self that you are OK, even if you are the only person sitting alone in the theater on a Friday.

The ego is the part of us that can get in the way. It gets in the way when we want to try something new and when we aren’t sure of ourselves. It says that you’re enough, or not enough. It says that you will succeed or that you won’t. When your ego has decided that you aren’t going to succeed the decisions has been made. The trick to trying new things with confidence is either getting your ego on your side, getting the ego to believe that you can be successful, or getting it out , of the way.

Getting the ego out of the way means working with the part of the self that is afraid and convincing it to trust you to keep it safe. Some people ignore their anxiety when moving in to a new situation, and often the anxiety rears its head in unexpected ways right in the middle of what you’re trying to do. Getting your ego on your side, trusting you to be OK even if you fail.

The ego is the part of the self that regards itself as real. When you are aware of the ego, when you are aware of the self that says that you can or can’t, then the ego isn’t in control. Being aware of the part of the self that isn’t necessarily right about what you can and can’t do allows you to work around the ego. This allows for greater exploration in your life, a greater willingness to see more of the world, and explore some edges that you may not have been willing to explore when the ego is in control.

Oh, to live without the anxiety of imperfection

Enlightenment has nothing to do with being perfect, holy or
saintly.  The awakened state is to
live without anxiety of imperfection. 
Zen Master Adyashanti



This was the meditation focus at the Sunday class at Dharma
Yoga in Austin.  I’ve hit a point
in two places in my life where I am OK not being perfect.  The first is at yoga, and the second is
in martial arts.  These are places
where I have physical limitation that keep me from being able to do everything
perfectly.  I allow myself to go,
do my best, and be okay with imperfection, and even failure.  I can’t say this is true for the rest
of my life.  I still struggle with
imperfection in other areas of my life, meaning I still struggle with wanting
to be perfect and judge myself when I’m not. 


This judgment leads to suffering.  It leads to sitting at home and wondering where I could have
done better, how other people are thinking of me, and what it means that I
screwed it up.  There are many
better ways to spend my energy. 


I hope one day to be able to say I am enlightened.  I hope to be able to say that I live
life without judging others or myself. 
To be able to say that while I learn from my mistakes, I don’t drown in


I had a bad day Tuesday.  I made some mistakes that I wish I hadn’t made.  Holding on to these mistakes and the
judgments of them will eat through me as I work to move through the rest of the
week, creating a snowball effect. 
It would be easy to hold on to those mistakes and start doubting myself,
and judging every move I make against those doubts.  Carrying them can become an emotional weight that can turn
in to anger, shame and bitterness towards others and myself.  The steps of moving toward
enlightenment means working to learn the lessons and then let go of the mistake
instead of holding on to the judgment. 


Imagine living a life without the anxiety of
imperfection.  Imagine allowing
yourself to be okay with the mistakes you have made and will make, and moving
through life with peace.  Image the
chances you will take, the doors you will willingly open and walk through because
you know that any failure is just a new opportunity to learn and grow.  Enlightenment is living without the
anxiety of imperfection. 

Can I get uncomfortable?

We all have things in our life that we want to be
different.  The struggle with
change is that in order for it to happen something needs to…well…change in our
lives.  And change is difficult and
frequently makes us uncomfortable.   The question you have to ask yourself; is the change
worth the discomfort?


Think of the last change you were excited about.  Maybe moving in with a partner, moving
away to a new place, starting a new class, or even starting a new diet or
quitting smoking.  The first month
or so is generally fairly easy. 
The excitement and the newness helps usher along the good feelings as we
begin the transition.  This is
generally called the honeymoon period. 
Everything seems great!  
Then after a month, maybe two, we start to settle in, and was we start we
notice to things that we aren’t as comfortable with.  As we work to step back in to our routine, we find that the
old routine (before the change) that we may not have liked was still
comfortable, and the new routine isn’t as much.  This is the tricky point, often the point of failure for
most people.  This is the time that
we have to decide if being uncomfortable is worth the transition.  We know that if we wait through the
discomfort the rewards will be fantastic. 
We will have a great relationship, a new education, or possible better
health, if we stick with it.  It is
like looking through a tunnel filled with ooze and spikes and seeing the beauty
and calm at the other side. All the while knowing that to get there, you have
to get through the tunnel.  


I don’t know that I have had truly painless change.  Often even the change I didn’t notice
while it was happening was painful, such as gaining weight, watching a child
grow up while I wasn’t paying attention, or finding out that the first Jurassic
Park came out 20 years ago this year and yes, I really am that old.   Change is scary, no matter how
much we want it.  There will be a
level of discomfort while we move from one place in our lives to another.  If we can’t handle being uncomfortable,
often the change won’t occur.  Is
the change you want worth being uncomfortable?

What is failure?

Have you ever thought about what true failure means?  There are plenty of things in my life I
haven’t succeeded at, at least the first time.  This begs the question;  these situations in which I haven’t succeeded, are they


I love a quote that was supposedly said by Thomas Edison. “I
have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving
that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will
not work, I will find the way that will work.”  Another quote I found supposedly by Edison was “After
we had conducted thousands of experiments on a certain project without solving
the problem, one of my associates, after we had conducted the crowning
experiment and it had proved a failure, expressed discouragement and disgust
over our having failed to find out anything. I cheerily assured him that we had
learned something. For we had learned for a certainty that the thing couldn’t
be done that way, and that we would have to try some other way.”



There are things in my life I have not accomplished.  Yet.  I have yet to have a successful marriage.  There is a jumping flip I have yet to
successfully do in martial arts (in fact my last lack of success was
spectacular, I ended up in the ER on a backboard).  I have yet to successfully use a crock-pot to cook dinner (I
have managed to keep from setting the smoke alarm off, but not to create
something edible).  I have learned
a great deal from each lack of success and will hopefully not make the same mistakes
the next.  I am engaged and ready
to try the marriage thing again, I am starting with baby steps on the flip, and
I will try my hand at the crock-pot dinner tonight.


Each time you take a step that doesn’t accomplish what you
want it to it is hopefully a learning experience.  That step may be bringing you closer to your goal, or closer
to finding the goal that will work. Life isn’t about driving directly toward
every goal; it is also about the journey. 
Success isn’t about crossing off line items on a checklist.   


Failure is not lack of success.  We will all find things at which we don’t succeed at
throughout our lives.  Failure is
giving up, and failure is not walking away without new knowledge.   Each day we will be given more and more chances to learn new
things through our successes and lack there of.   I like to believe I have yet to fail. 


What you see is what you get

Everyone has goals, wants, wishes and would likes.  Some of them are unrealistic, such as
wishing to win the lottery or play for the NFL (for most of us anyway).  Many though are closer than people
think they are.  The difficulty is
we see what we believe, and if we believe that our goal is unreachable, we will
only see the things that prove that. 


I was speaking with a client, and I asked what she wanted to
do that she had never tried before. She immediately got a downcast look to her
face and said “Travel, But I could never afford it”.  I asked her if she likes to camp and her face lit up.  I also told her about the travel watch
sites that help find the best air-fares and the sites like that do world wide
travel adventures for fairly decent prices.  She couldn’t see the possibilities in front of her because
she knew that traveling was too


Let’s do this exercise.  Look at the image below and count the number of squares you
see.  Try not the cheat and scroll
down to get the answer before you find as many as you can.



How may squares do you see?


 Were you able to find all of them?  For the final one, your hint is to look outside of the


There are 31 squares. We see
what we are looking for.  There are
16 smaller squares, and one large one, totaling 17.  Each group of four makes a square, each group of nine makes
a square.  There are nine groups of
4, and four groups of 9.  The final
square is the word “square” on top of the grid.  That is the most often missed because we just aren’t looking
for it. 


We would like to believe we
see most of what is in front of us. 
The dificulty is that there is so much out there, we have to filter events
out in order to keep from going insane. 
We start to prioritize the things we see, and don’t realize what we are
filtering.  It means we miss things
that are right in front of us. 


Believing that what we want
is possible is one of the first steps to making our wants come true.   At times that may mean adjusting
our expectations, if you want to travel you may need to admit that being a
first class jet-setter isn’t in the cards yet, but seeing new places can
be.   We see what we expect to
see, and sometimes that makes us limit our own possibilities. 











What if?

So many of us hold back on our lives because of the “what if”.  What if I get hurt? What if I’m miserable?   What if..what if…what if.   So many people get lost in the down side of considering what can happen they forget the sunny side of “what if”.  

What if I have a fantastic time?  What if it turns out well?  What if it isn’t as bad as I think it will be?  What if it does suck, but I’m able to get through it just fine?

I choose to not live through fear.  I do want to look at the possibilities that lay in front of me, some of the “just in case” scenarios so that I don’t walk in unprepared.  I refuse though, to let all the little “what ifs” keep me from living my life. 

My partner and I are both divorced.  As we look at moving forward in our relationship the “what ifs” are rearing their ugly heads.  What if the same things happen that ended our first marriages?  What if we both change, and not together?  What if?  Neither of us want to go through the pain of a divorce again, so the “what ifs” that we never saw coming the first time create the “what ifs” of the future.  A friend of mine refuses to take the next step because he is terrified of his “what ifs”, refusing to jump in to something new because “what if the same thing happens again?”. 

But what if I do get the happily ever after?  What if my first marriage was just a rehearsal so I could find what I needed to be successful in this one?  What if I did learn from my mistakes?

What if?  Such a powerful question.  Don’t forget that there are two sides of “what if”;  the “what ifs” of joy and happiness.  I won’t live my life in fear of all of the bad things that can happen only seeing the down side of “what if”.  What’s the fun in that?

How did you live?

I know that someday I will die.  It is the one constant in life, the one guarantee.  When I finally move on to the last great adventure there will be three questions I will be asking myself; How well did you live, how hard did you love and how deeply did you let go.

The first question; how well did you live.  I think there are many different ways to interpret that question. To me it is asking if I was able to live my life without allowing fear to get in my way.  Was I able to attack my life as an adventure, allowing myself to fall, to fail, to get hurt?  Did I try everything I wanted to try?  Did I see everything I wanted to see?  Did I tackle all of the challenges in my life, trying to live my life as fully as I could?  I see people  live their life through the lenses of ignorance and fear.  Their hearts are closed to new experiences, including love, trust, exploration, and sometimes even fun.  They see the world and life as something to hide from instead of something to explore and cherish.  I want to know that I tasted as many foods as possible, explored as many cultures and beliefs, peered out over as many vistas as possible.  I want to know that I didn’t hide from life, but lived it. 

Second: How deeply did you love?  Loving deeply, true love, is scary.  Deep love requires a letting go of your heart and giving it to someone else. It requires not only that you trust the person that you give your love to, but that you trust yourself.  It requires that you trust in your ability to keep yourself together if your heart is handed back to you, possibly in pieces.  It requires that you are able to not only love others, but to love yourself as deeply as possible.  I think that is one of the most difficult things to do in this life.  To love yourself, accepting your own foibles and problems.  To look at yourself in the mirror, forgive your mistakes and know that you are deserving of love.  Knowing that when you find true love, you aren’t able to know hate. For yourself or anyone else. 

Finally, how deeply did you let go?   Did you dance with abandon?  Did you love with freedom?  Did you explore with an open heart?  Or did you hold on to fear, hold on to hate, hold on to regret or shame? 

I don’t want to face that final adventure wishing.  Wishing I had loved more, lived harder, or let go more often.  I know I want to live as well and as fully as I possibly can, love as much as I much as I am able, and let go as fully as possible. 

Fear Sucks

For those of you who haven’t discovered you are missing out.  I was watching the clip What I learned from climbing with Matthew Child, and something he said grabbed me.  He said “Fear means you aren’t focusing on what you are doing, it means you are focusing on failing at what you are doing.”   I thought about all the times I have been afraid, and I realized how absolutely correct that statement is.  I especially thought about my own climbing experiences, and my fears were not necessarily of failing, but of looking like an idiot when I failed.  The failure didn’t bother me, I know that the rope is going to catch me and I trust my belayer, but I am focusing so much on not looking like a fool that I forget to focus on what I am doing.  In focusing so much on my desire to not fail and look bad, I often don’t take risks or push myself to do challenges that I could complete if I could just get over myself for a few minutes. 

Think of the last time you were afraid.  What would have happened if you had been able to look past the fear; the fear of failure, of looking foolish, etc, and just focus on what you were doing at the time?  I even think about the fear one has when in an argument.  The fear of not being understood, of rejection, of loosing, what have you.  If you were able to look past that fear and focus on the communication and workout out the problem, how would that change the argument? 

I like that idea of not focusing on my failure and focusing on the task at hand.  I have talked before about the concept of getting out of your own way, and this falls easily in to that category.   Matthew Child discusses the 9 things he learned form climbing.  He talks about perseverance, focus, taking care of yourself, thinking outside of the box, and not thinking strength will solve everything.   My favorite is the last rule; knowing how to let go.  Allowing yourself the ability to fall, to fail, and know how to let go and start again.  He gives 9 rules that quickly lay out how to step past fear and find success within yourself.  I have had trouble with embeding the video’s in to the blog, so if the below video doesn’t work, it is worth it to click through to the link above to see what he has to say.