The critics who site narcissism as the reason behind sweeping tides of apathy in the realms of politics and social justice are getting it wrong.
In most cases, people aren’t even apathetic. They care, deeply.
In fact, the truth is that we are afraid to confront how much we really care.
To acknowledge how much we really, truly deeply care would open up pain.
– The pain of watching as a black mother grieves because her unarmed teenage son was shot and then the system that purports to punish such crimes completely fails her.
– The pain of watching the world forget, after a couple hundred Nigerian girls are abducted while they are at school, not to be seen again, likely being raped and forced into marriage by their abductors.
– The pain of what it truly means to be poor and hungry.
– The pain of how bleak life is when you don’t have access to clean water.
– The pain of what we are doing to our own environment, building pipelines that are going to inevitably burst and wreak environmental havoc; sucking up water even in times of drought.
We close off our hearts because opening them feels like too much. And the most painful thing of all?
The pain of feeling powerless.
The truth is, as I sit here typing this in my comfortable two-story, multi-bathroomed home with my daughter sleeping peacefully in the next room and my husband working on his laptop while I work on my desktop and the two cars sitting outside of our home and the iPhones and iPads (plural)…
…the truth is that I cannot actively and directly do anything to single-handedly solve these problems. I cannot make Ferguson convict the white cop, who shot an unarmed black youth that was holding hands in the air. I cannot fly to Nigeria and single-handedly return those girls to their families who so desperately love and miss them. I can feed one person, but I cannot end world hunger. I cannot stop the Keystone XL pipeline. I cannot even make my neighbors stop watering their lawns or the local car dealerships stop washing all those unused cars on their lots, day after day.
Those truths are really, really fucking painful.
But I will do this: I will open my heart enough to care.
When I open my heart enough to care, then those mothers can never grieve alone.
On some level, I’m aware that that’s a pithy and meager contribution to the world’s problems. I could trot out other things that I do, donating money or time or resources, for the public’s general assessment of whether or not that’s “enough,” but the truth is that even to me, the things that I give or donate or offer never quite feel like “enough” when I know that people suffer, and I think that that’s just part of the deal.
On another level, I have a faith that open hearts and love are a more powerful force than we can tangibly recognize.
I have a faith that the day will come when the world will say its collective “NO” and that the power of our voices, together, will mean something.
And in the meantime, there’s this, my voice. This privileged, white voice that wants to use that privilege for something, for speaking up, and for giving a damn.
To the mothers who experience the suffering of watching your children being shot simply because of their skin color? Please know that someone cares. Someone gives a damn. And someone is willing to say, “That shouldn’t have fucking happened. Ever. It’s inexcusable. I support YOU, not the flawed institutions. Wherever I see a place for me to lend my power, my privilege, my voice to stopping this? It’s on. I’m with you. You’re not alone.”
I stand with Mother Nature, with people who are hungry, with those who are at the front lines of getting access to clean water to everyone. I stand with respect for the ground we walk on. I stand with love that transcends our fears about skin color and cultural difference.
I stand with all of those things because I have the courage to give a damn.
My greatest wish is that after reading this, you will, too.
Free for subscribers on Friday, December 12th: The 2015 Courageous Living Planner.
Note: this is a different kind of “planner.”
It’s not about setting to-do lists of goals, or achieving in order to feel like enough.
It’s about honoring the truth of 2014, and finding a guided way to establish what you desire for 2015 (and, let’s be honest, make it happen).
You’ll look at 2014 through the lens of joy, pain, and getting real about chronic patterns. What did the fear teach you? What do you most want to celebrate? Then you’ll dive in to what you want for 2015, with monthly check-in questions and your own, personal quarterly review. I’m nourishing myself / creating ease / creating spaciousness by… I’m ditching the inefficiency of…
How to Get the planner
The Your Courageous Life subscribers already get access to the free Shift Plan (lucid dreaming + clarity + action plan for making your boldest moves), and pairing it with the 2015 Courageous Living Planner? That’s where things get a bit alchemical. When you get real about your life, life gets real about you. You’ll feel things really vrroom-vrooomm mooooove.
If you’re already a YCL subscriber, check your inbox on Friday, December 12th for the goods.
If you’re not already a subscriber? Head to this page to begin and when you confirm your information, look for access to the YCL Library, where you can download the Shift Plan. Get ready to jive and vibe with your most courageous ambitions and aspirations.
Like many of you, I have spent a good amount of time and money on–to use the technical term–Healing My Shit. The old stuff, the inner kid stuff, the wounds, the chronic niggling stuff that came back around when I thought I was truly done with it, the stuff that whothehellknows I might’ve reincarnated with and there’s nothing that has even happened in this lifetime to cause it.
Pain. Plain and simple.
We all encounter it. What matters, of course, is what we do with it.
What was I willing to do with my pain? Why, be courageous with it, of course. Acknowledge that it existed rather than pretend that it didn’t.
I was willing to go into the core of the wound as many times as it took.
And something has happened, as a result of that hard work: life is pretty amazing, on a regular basis.
Open. Expansive. Nurturing. There is more love, and more connection, and more trust. When things get off-kilter (and because this is life, of course they still do), I still feel initially reactive but it’s much easier to access the breath, and remember that it’s all okay, and that I am blessed beyond measure.
But something curious has happened as I’ve healed layers of pain. The carefully cultivated habit of being open to the pain so as not to numb out from it means that sometimes, I catch myself not fully receiving my blessings.
Not Receiving Looks Like…
What it looks like to not receive your blessings :
You have a great marriage and your husband is your best friend. Blessing!
Not receiving the blessing? Looks like getting irritated with him about the little nit-picky thing that doesn’t even really matter, in the long run.
You’ve learned all sorts of life lessons about accessing and listening to your intuition and utilizing appropriate boundaries. Blessing!
Not receiving the blessing? Looks like totally subverting your intuitive hits and not speaking up even though all past experience has shown you that not speaking up only makes things worse.
You’ve got money. Blessing!
Not receiving the blessing? Hanging out in the fear that money problems are inevitably right around the corner. Or blowing all of it. Or not saving for emergencies. Or never having any fun with it.
You’ve got time. Blessing!
Not receiving the blessing? Wasting time by endlessly surfing Facebook or not using any of that time for self-care (such that any available free time becomes solely about “getting more stuff done.”)
You’ve got friends who genuinely care about you. Blessing!
Not receiving the blessing? Never getting vulnerable. Not letting them in your heart when life is difficult. Avoiding them completely during times of conflict, rather than trying to work things through. Filling your schedule with so many to-dos that there’s no hope of a slow cup of tea, anywhere in your future.
You’ve got a beautiful home, plenty of space. Blessing!
Not receiving the blessing? You don’t clean it. You can’t find anything. Perpetual mess, perpetual chaos.
Parasitic Personal Growth
When you’ve given your time in service to doing “the hard work,” aka, Healing Your Shit, you see the benefits. The temptation to avoid, here, is to sign yourself up for “more hard work” without ever stopping to enjoy those benefits.
The fear underpinning all of this? That you won’t know who you are if you let life get really, really good. That you’ll never actually outrun that past pain.
When you’ve spent a lot of time wading through all of the darkness and trying to get a small glowing ember of light to be full on ablaze, it’s easy to forget that all of this mucky darkness? It’s just a stop along the way. It’s not where you’re supposed to live.
The muck has its place, its purpose. Its purpose is to be healed. You’re here to start a revolution from within, one that starts with you, and expands outward.
Too many of us are light-bringers who forget that at some point, we need to cut ties with pain and suffering, so that we can live fully within the light.
It’s always got to start from within. Whatever you aren’t giving to yourself, you’ll have no capacity to give to anyone else.
Note: that’s how self-help can become parasitic and start to dissolve the host (that’d be you, babe). When we get so busy looking for the next thing to heal and keeping our joy under a lid because we don’t think we can really celebrate until we’ve lined up more of our life’s circumstances, we’re not practicing healing. We’re practicing perfectionism.
And perfectionism, as writer Elizabeth Gilbert has said, “is just fear, in nicer clothes.”
You’ve Given. Now Receive.
Like so many of you, I’ve spent years self-identifying as having “Issues” that “needed work.”
Truth? I don’t have quite as many issues, anymore. Still have ‘em, yes. Just not as many, and they don’t feel as intense.
Friends are beyond what I ever could have imagined, these powerhouses of women surrounding me. My house of money and career is rocking a sexy slow jam. My husband and I leave nothing unsaid. In any relationship conflict, perhaps for the first time in my life, I’m clear and grounded in what integrity and compassion look like. Best of all, every time my daughter smiles, it’s clear: I am winning at life.
To be honest: This is Kate, figuring out a new Kate. This new person is someone who doesn’t need people’s approval as much. Someone who knows how to say “no” with grace. Someone who knows how to make requests without attachment. Someone who is willing to release relationships that don’t have a shared vision around what respect looks like. Someone who has more fun, smiles more, laughs more. Someone who prioritizes self-care even when she’s up against deadlines.
In other words, someone who’s getting the fruits of all of that “hard work.”
So yeah, I thought to myself the other day, as something worked out for me rather seamlessly. I think it’s time to drop the storyline that life is…hard. What if it’s just…easeful? What if I just keep thinking it’s hard and looking for what’s hard because…that’s what I’ve been doing for so long, that I’ve forgotten to just soak in the expansion?
I’ll always be an advocate for people having a willingness to look at what’s not working in their lives. Numbing out is endemic in our society and just simply practicing the courage to pay attention is already a huge first step.