The Divine Power of Not Needing Your Hand Held

As a general rule, we try to externalize happiness. This is nothing new. We’re raised as children to look for answers from the adults around us, and the world can easily start to seem like a series of events that happen to us rather than lives that we are consciously choosing, day by day, choice by choice.

The challenge then becomes that many of us will spend a lifetime looking “out there” for answers, and without even realizing it, a side effect of this becomes a desire to have hand-holding all along the way.


Trained to give away power

The need (read: dependency, not the natural human desire to be interconnected) for hand-holding trains us to give away our power.

We stop seeing ourselves as the agents of our lives, capable of making powerful choices within every situation, and instead start seeing the external as punishment/reward. We keep looking for hand-holding in all of its manifestations: That right e-course that will “show us the way,” that right therapist or coach, that right book. You can hear this voice most clearly when someone says, “I always quit e-courses,” or “Oh, I’ve tried therapy and it didn’t work.”

I submit to you, baldly yet with love: Nothing works unless we choose to make it work–in the form of trying on a new perspective with an open heart, to see what is a match for us.

The e-course, the therapist, the book–in terms of your personal power, your divine essence–they are irrelevant.

The same “amazing e-course” for one person is ho-hum for another. In hand-holding mode, the person who experienced it as ho-hum will sit back, do nothing to make the experience better, and then blame the e-course leader or the content or the other participants. –Or they’ll abruptly cancel sessions with a therapist or coach and switch to another without offering the first person an explanation. –Or they’ll simply stop reading the book that they had bought with such high hopes.

In divinely owning your power mode, the person will recognize the pieces that aren’t a match, speak up to see if adjustments can be made, and put the focus on themselves, doing whatever they can to make it a powerful experience.

Feeling like there’s not enough participation in the e-course? Ask: how much are you participating? Lessons moving along too fast? Ask: are you giving yourself permission to take things slowly, or blaming the pacing on the leader? Therapist talking about things that you don’t feel relevant to your life? Ask: Is it possible that I’m Resistant? Am I sharing with this therapist what would, in fact, feel relevant? Book no longer feeling like it’s a match? Ask: What is its central message? Am I Resistant? How can I create this more powerfully–will I choose to take anything away from this?

The goal, if there is one beyond simply BEing your journey, is not to finish everything that you start. The goal is to see what energy you’re putting behind it: where might you want someone or something outside of you to “make it better”?

And on the flip-side, when experiences are good, do you externalize by making the e-course leader, the therapist, or the book into “the thing” that’s responsible for your internal shift, rather than your choice to try out their perspective and then uniquely apply it to your life? There are two sides to this coin. Neither are powerful.


The role of collaboration

Without a doubt, collaboration is a sacred act. We all need the support of others along the way.

But without some attention, most of us are still looking around for our parents’ hands, wanting someone or something to make it easier to step onto the escalator of life, and then giving them the credit when things work out, or foisting onto them the blame when things are not to our satisfaction.

In reality, we make choices. We do the work of courageously stepping into that which we fear. We choose to save the money to go on the retreat, or to make the time for creating stillness in our lives, to speak up when it’s hard, to participate even if you’re risking being seen, to initiate a new friendship. We might tell ourselves that someone else’s inspiring ideas or personality is what made it possible, but we’re giving ourselves (and then) short shrift.

Hand-holding can only get you so far. See what happens when you let go, and take a few steps fully embodied in you, your life, your choices. Like the feeling of a bracing wind, the experience can be enlivening–the wild animal of you, open, ready, beautiful in your vulnerability and courage, living 100% fully alive.



what do you love?

What do you love with a wide open heart?

What do you see, hear, or experience in the world that has you connect with some biologically unidentifiable space inside that exhales… “yes!”…? For as much as we try to quantify and objectify everything, to establish a relevant hypothesis and then set up the standards upon which a theory can be proven or disproven, no one can locate that well inside that brims over with its desire to live a life of devotion to that which you love.

What you love–what you know you are devoted to–is something that is just for you. The first answers to this question of what you love might be “My children,” or “My husband/partner/friends.”

Maybe so. If it’s the type of love that I’m talking about, it’s a love that isn’t about caring for them or lifting them up, it’s about an experience of loving them that takes you so high, it lifts you up. It’s just for you. It’s okay–it’s not selfish–it’s innate to connect with something inside you that takes you this far.

It’s important to know, and seek out, what you love to the point of devotion–the thing that is love just for love. Why’s it such a big deal? Whatever that thing is, it connects you with life.

I recently visited an exhibition of the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. There’s no way to look at a retrospective of his photographs and see that he was in love with his craft–he traveled continents and his work spans decades, at a time when producing photography was more than just a little inconvenient.

But one can imagine Cartier-Bresson, walking through Paris or some village in Mexico, his travels in China shadowed by a newly-formed Communist government, his pockets bulging slightly with film. The thing he loved most took him wherever he needed to go, and it connected him with life.

“It is through living that we discover ourselves, at the same time as we discover the world around us.” –Henri Cartier-Bresson

I couldn’t look at his photographs without seeing how richly he had lived–so many of his prints seemed so alive that I could look at them and imagine how I might stand there in the midst of a fish market, watching as a woman leaned over a pile of glistening trout to hand a man his purchase. I look at that photograph and I can smell the fish, hear the animated sounds of a sunlit market in Paris. I look at his photograph of a schoolgirl in Communist China, sitting at her desk with two ink-black pigtails trailing behind her shoulders, and I can imagine her quiet studiousness, the way the room breathed obedience.

This is how it is with going completely into whatever it is that you love–it invites others to live, as well.

That’s why all of the psychobabble around artmaking becomes, in essence, drama.

  • It doesn’t matter if your fourth-grade art teacher told you that your paintings were worthless.
  • It doesn’t matter if the only time you have all day is five minutes.
  • It doesn’t matter if you’re sixty and your body is bent and crooked and you can’t imagine how you’d pull yourself into a leotard, much less complete a dance class.
  • It doesn’t matter if your sulky teenager isn’t in any frame of mind at all to receive kindness.

Nothing matters, except what you make matter. And far too many of us are pissing life away making the drama matter more than connecting to that which we love beyond reason.

Love “beyond reason.”

Love what you love because it’s your birthright and because somewhere in the world, there’s someone who would give anything to change places with you.

I’m not suggesting that you completely ignore the feelings of fear, insecurity, guilt, shame, anger, disappointment, anxiety that can come with creating something. Pushing away doesn’t make something go away.

I’m suggesting that you acknowledge that they’re there, and then you get to it–loving with singular devotion–and then you’ll see that when you tap into that, the love will get you past all of the feelings that weigh you down.

Get in there. All the way. Now.

Courageous Passion :: SARK!



So here’s what’s really trippy about doing what I do now–years ago, I was reading books written by SARK (remember when I wrote about eating mangoes?) and at that time, I never would have imagined in a million years that one day, I’d be interviewing her about her latest book after having started my own business.

Trippy, yeah? I hope this little tidbit inspires you to wonder: What might I think, currently, is something I could never do in a million years…that I might actually find myself doing in the future?

SARK and I had a phone interview (which I’m including as part of The Courageous Living Program), in which I was burning to know her take on this question: What do you do about the backlash that can happen when people start to get happy?

I personally spent many years of my life feeling stuck in a sort of ongoing depression/anhedonia, and then when I finally had climbed out of this sort of a place, I was astonished to realize how much snarck there was around happiness. What had I been doing all of these years, trying to get to a place where I was happy…if only to find there was a whole other crew of people who were “too cool” to be happy, to risk being Glad No Matter What?

I appreciated her answer–a powerful declaration of stepping into who she is and claiming her life, which is such an essential part of Courageous Living–and I wanted to share a clip of our interview, here. I hope you enjoy it, and enjoy Glad No Matter What!