Seeing the best in life's challenges

The Scientific Mind: Linear or Conceptual?

Science is reliable.  We can trust its conclusions.  It is logical.  It tells us what’s true.  Do you agree?

In school, we teach the scientific method.  It’s how we test a question (or hypothesis) to determine whether it is correct or not.



For basic scientific concepts, this is a straightforward process, one that is practiced in the labs of every high school.  An experiment can be replicated over and over to show consistent results. Scientific method is the linear framework that we use to test a hypothesis step by step.

Much of what we would commonly think of as science or scientific professions deals with subjects that have been tested and proven.  The medical profession, for example, relies on what is known about how the human body functions, the effects of pharmaceuticals, the effects of diet and exercise, and the role of genetics.  All of this has been demonstrated by rigorous and numerous scientific studies.

But physicians, for example, pretty much stick to following the established rules and procedures that have been determined for them.  They are not acting as “scientists” who are coming up with new hypotheses and testing new treatments.  Physicians follow a linear paradigm of applied science.

There are exceptions, but they tend not to be well-received.  The example that opened my eyes is the story of Dr. Robert Atkins.  He read about a diet, experimented on himself and got good results, then had certain of his cardiology patients follow the diet and got similarly good results.  He documented his findings.  He did everything you are supposed to do as a scientist……except that his conclusions ran counter to the accepted body of knowledge at the time.  And in our world, we really don’t want physicians acting as scientists.  We don’t want them experimenting on us.  We expect the medical profession to follow the rules.  Linear application of science.

The medical profession is not unusual.  A large number of those trained as scientists, end up working in situations where they are applying known scientific principles to, say, produce a product in a consistent manner.  This is using science in a linear manner.

I dare say this is why so many with science degrees who go out and get a “real job,” lose interest, and switch into business roles.  Studying science encourages thinking and creativity, but working in applied science is all about following the rules (linear) and NOT stepping out of bounds or being creative (being conceptual).

The general population is comfortable with the scientific principles that are known, proven, and well-established.  This is nothing new.  We are happy to embrace the idea of science when it proves what we are already comfortable with.

It’s a different story when you go outside the box.

Conceptual science is the domain of the researcher.  And that’s where science gets complicated because there are all kinds of assumptions and outside influences that are messy.  The more complicated the hypothesis that is being tested, the harder it is to control the variables of an experiment.  And most real-life situations are complicated.

So, what exactly is Science, anyway?  Is it the proven facts that we use in Applied Science?  Or is it the constant questioning of the unknown?

This is an interesting paradox.  Most people want science to tell them the absolute answers, but testing what is outside the box is really what science is all about.  It’s easy and safe to follow established procedures and that is what has allowed us to take advantage of the discoveries that science has found so far.

It’s a different thing altogether to come up with some crazy hypothesis and test it out.  But this is what higher education in the sciences teaches you.  It’s creative thinking, experimentation (i.e. play), and then documenting what you did.



A pure scientist will be free of bias of any kind.  This is very, very rare in our world.  Who is paying for the research?  Who does the scientist work for?  Is there an expected result, and how will the researchers feel if they do years of research, only to come up with nothing?  Are the conclusions too far from generally accepted wisdom?  If the conclusions seem crazy, will they be able to compete for that next research grant?

Some become so attached to their hypothesis that they have a very hard time seeing the facts that contradict it, and only see and pursue the research that affirms it.

After all, we are talking about humans here.

I’ve done enough research, analysis, and documentation to know that there is much more room to “spin” one’s conclusions than most people realize.  You can do all your work but then you have to “tell the story.”  Some are better at telling stories than others.  Some have motivations to tell their stories from one angle rather than another.  If telling your story in a slightly different way means you can keep your job and feed your family, what do you think most people will do?

Science Outside the Box

If you really want to explore and think about these ideas, read The Field by Lynne McTaggert.  It is an easy-to-read book about cutting edge scientists who are looking at observable things in the world that don’t fit into our established paradigm.

A linear thinker who works in a scientific field will color within the lines.  He or she will follow the principles that are proven.  Understand, this is how our world functions!   Otherwise, there would be mass chaos!  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this role, unless the linear thinkers become so comfortable in their paradigm that they are unable to leave room for the role of the conceptual thinkers.

The conceptual thinkers approach the world of science with a mind that has no limits.  There are relatively few of these people, but we need them!  Those that think conceptually, outside the box.  This is where progress is made.  This is where our comfortable paradigms get questioned and stretched.  This is where there are no forbidden questions.  This is where we ask “What If?” without fear of where that will lead us.

This kind of scientist is less concerned with being right and knowing “the answer” – rather, it is all about gaining a better understanding.  This scientist is never done with the quest.

My conceptual-thinking, science-trained mind is always open to learning something new.  It’s why I constantly ponder and wonder.  I think and think because I find it interesting, like working on a puzzle.  I’m sure it can appear obsessive, and I also think this can be misunderstood because it might resemble worrying.  But fear has no place in the obsessively thinking mind of a scientist.  At least that’s how it is for me.  It’s also why I’m driven to “tell my story” and be understood.  It’s why I welcome dialog and other viewpoints.  The process never ends, it just keeps looping on toward a greater understanding.

That’s my attempt to explain the Scientific Mind.




Smile at a stranger

Pass them by

Hardly give it a thought

Or think about why


Ripples in the water

Thoughts in mind

You’ll never know

Just being Kind



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Remembering the River of Oneness


a note by Ryan Nicholas

When you were born, you knew something.  It wasn’t like “knowing something” the way we define it now – in that sense, it was nothing. But it wasn’t nothing. It was everything. It was a direct knowledge of your complete interconnection with everything and everyone around you. It was like the entire Universe existed just for you, and you created it all with your own consciousness. Let us call this sublime state of awareness the knowing of the “One Thing”.

Sooner or later, it became clear that others seemed to have forgotten about the One Thing. The older they got, the more they seemed to have forgotten about it. But other children still knew. You may not have been able to discuss it with them, but you didn’t need to – you just knew they knew. Besides, you didn’t really have the words to anyway. In the same way, you also knew that the grown-ups never actually forgot… but they seemed to think they had, because all of the focus of their lives had gone into the details of this other, infinitely complex energy that seemed to “replace” the awareness of the One Thing in everyone. Let us call this the “Other Thing”.

You further came to find that the entire world of people and things and everything around you was built around this Other Thing. The Other Thing did not make people feel anywhere near as happy as the One Thing could, but they seemed to want to do it anyway. And they wanted YOU to do it too.

As you grew, you figured it was ok to play along with this Other Thing. Why not? It must still be part of the One Thing (even if it didn’t seem like it), because everything was. Even though older people seemed to have forgotten the One Thing, it was like they’d forgotten and  remembered at the same time. You could do that, you probably thought – maybe you’d even remember more than you’d forget? Maybe some day someone would come to you and explain all of this weirdness. You knew  that one day, the remembering would be stronger than the forgetting. It had to be. Why not play along, right? All the One Thing ever needed was for you to do what came naturally, and this Other Thing only seemed to diverge slightly from that at first. In truth, at the beginning it only required thinking – and, of course, the side effect of transferring your sense of identity into your mind. Surely, though, such a process couldn’t make you forget something so powerful. And those parents of yours (if you had both of them there) probably wouldn’t have been very happy if you weren’t a little “normal”. You may remember your love for them being reason enough to “play the game”. You may want to remember this as “merely” a survival instinct, but survival is self-love, and at the time this decision was made, you still felt a level of unity with those around you that to discern between “love for others” and “love for yourself” would be difficult to describe in words at this point because the two were really one and the same.

As this went on, you gradually started to lose your awareness of the One Thing, and knew full well that it was happening. If you were anything like me, you may have sworn to yourself that you’d retain at least some memory of it, even if you were starting to wonder what “it” was at this point. “One day”, you may have thought, “the remembering will be stronger than the forgetting again, and everyone will know it“. You may have latched onto tales of “God” that resembled what you were now starting to forget about the One Thing (except for leaving out the vital element that YOU were at the Center of it). You may have latched onto Science, which glorified Thinking and used the word Because so exquisitely that you could pretend the One Thing was never real. Perhaps you did a little bit of both. Thoughts like these became your solace alongside your willingness to continue playing the game you had already gotten so far into, and you began, at least to some degree, to forget even going through the process I am describing. This created what later became a deeply buried self-conflict, the roots of a frustration at knowing you’d locked yourself away from the sacred consciousness you knew was still there somewhere. If you were like me, this would later become a resentment toward “the system”, a projection of that negativity towards the most apt possible target. If not, perhaps this manifested more specifically or in more complex or hidden forms, towards various “pet peeves” about the world or in one of any variation of degrees of negative attitude about – well, anything in life, really. In some way, though, all negativity that developed from this point on was some kind of complicated growth of your frustration at the Other Thing that “made you” forget about the One Thing in the first place. If religion was your bag, this was probably the “Devil”. If Science was your bag, it may have been the very idea of God (so as to reject the memory of the One Thing completely), or perhaps it just became a silent, invisible, barely-there subconscious old memory, lost in the infinity of causality and laws. But the thing is, you never really didforget the One Thing, which is why this all sounds familiar.

The Other Thing – the essence of human culture and civilization for thousands of years – has been the very energy that has allowed our species to develop into what we are. It is naturally associated with the One Thing seeming like it’s missing. What is happening now? The One Thing is coming back. The remembering is about to trump the forgetting. Your ancient, secret, unexpressed hope that this would happen one day – the hope that cynics gave up on long ago, usually without even realizing what they were giving up on – is about to blossom into Truth on a global scale. You know this already, you have been feeling it happening. It is happening NOW.


I want you to imagine a river, teeming with aquatic life in the form of fish. Now imagine a dam is built to block the water. See the riverbed drying, and then imagine that the fish must evolve to survive. So, they start growing limbs. This process is spread out through many generations, but through them all, the fish keep their gills and tails, because somewhere inside themselves, they know the river will return one day. It becomes necessary, however, to think, act and live as if this may not actually happen. Stories are told of the river as the Origin of life and as the place to which one might return upon death. Many do not believe these stories, because they feel such a focus would impede their ability to function with a proper understanding of this dry environment – an understanding which is needed for growth, development, and even survival.

Now I want you to imagine that one day the dam is brought down and the River returns. The fish still have gills and tails, “unnecessary remnants of an old evolution” according to some. But now, they can use them again. Being added back to this “original” environment that none of them alive have ever actually seen is somehow automatically familiar, and it becomes clear only at this point that the dam itself and the time of growing limbs has served only to prepare them for the return of the River. Now they can be in the water, still retaining all of the abilities and skills they have developed while dry, but able to use them in a much more expanded, fluid environment. In the process, they meet other fish – with limbs – who went through a similar process upstream long ago. These other fish can relate somewhat to the plight of the fish who are confused, wondering why the river was ever dry and often even angry at those who had built the dam. This collective understanding can now be greatly enhanced by our fish, who now have fresh, powerful memories of this process of transition, and are able now to apply these lessons to help other fish, either here or further down the River. Some have trouble letting go of the accustomed state of living on dry land. This attachment causes some of these fish to discourage this whole process from even happening, feeling a need to validate the entire evolution they have experienced by saying the River shouldn’t (or simply can’t) even return

This River is the One Thing you so vaguely remember. We are these fish, embracing or resisting the return of the River in all sorts of various degrees. The difference is that when you were born, you were still in the water, and YOU, by your agreement to comply and “play the game”, were needed to put the last few sticks of your Dam in place. When you did this, you knew that the river would return one day. But when things got “dry” enough, you began to notice that others around you in the world – in this metaphorical riverbed called Earth – seemed to work even harder than you did to keep the Dam in place. This was naturally puzzling, because by this point you had started to forget one of the central truths of the River, of the One Thing: that Love was the reason for all of this and that those you saw doing such things ARE you, that they are intimately connected with your consciousness, even if they seem to be motivated by completely different things. In at least some small way, this confusion and negativity was disconcerting enough to you that you became one of these dam-builders. Perhaps this manifested in ways similar to those you saw; perhaps this only happened by judging, rejecting or dismissing the validity and importance of what they were doing. Either way, you forgot that YOU had put those sticks in the dam – that YOU actually co-created this absence of the River, this dryness of the riverbed.

Allowing yourself to accept and understand this means not only owning your part in this – however distant and metaphysical it may seem – but also recognizing that the “dryness” of consciousness in the world around you can only be remedied by acknowledging that the River of awareness you see around you is only a reflection of its flow within you. Whatever release or forgiveness – towards others or especially towards yourself – that is needed to unblock the dam holding it back is something that only you can do. Even the greedy people who enslave and control the world and work to limit everyone’s awareness have been only manifestations of the Hiding of the One Thing – of the process that you assisted, the Dam that you helped to build. This does not mean that you did something wrong, and it does not mean that you are responsible for every manifestation of darkness and evil in the world. It just means that we are all connected, and that we ALL created this together – those simple acts of compliance you did as a child happened from a place of such awareness, such consciousness and power, that if you had truly known what you know now about the evils of the world, you probably never would have contributed your infinite essence to such darkness. But it was necessary that you did. You were supposed  to be here, experiencing an existence that seems questionable in its sacredness, having created for yourself a choice: should I continue to live with fear and resistance, building the dam I continue to protest? Or, should I accept these truths again and embrace the reality of the River, meaning that I must see anything I want to change as some aspect of Myself? At some (probably deeply buried) level of your consciousness, you knew from the start that one day you would have to face this choice.

Once you start remembering this, you begin to see that it is not as much to be upset about as you may have thought until now. IN fact, it has all been necessary and part of a perfect universal balance that could have been no other way if you were to get back to this point of remembering, of letting the River come back. But YOU are needed to do this. Do you remember thinking that if everyone just loved everyone else, that everything would be perfect in the world? This is still true. But the Other Thing – whether you think of it as the dam itself or as the dry riverbed – has made the world seem like loving everyone would put you in danger, or that doing so would simply be naive and make it so you couldn’t function in the world. This is not true. Yes, it has been this way in a great many ways for a long time. And yes, we have built identities around the One Thing being “gone”, so much so that itseems that if it came back, those identities might serve no purpose. But if we simply remember that the “legs” can still function in the “river”, then we can begin to see that every aspect of the dam and its builders has been necessary to get us this far. Everything about human culture, history, ego, personality and expression can be integrated back into a much larger and more completely, obviously connected collective of universal energy. If we want to experience the River, the return of the One Thing and its awareness, it is absolutely essential that we have unconditional love for those who have brought us down, limited us, manipulated us, and challenged us with their complex dam-building. WE have to remember that because we have judged such people, even in some small way, we have engaged in becoming the very energy we are judging. If we do this enough, taking full and deep responsibility on the most profound possible level, we can allow ourselves to see that what we are judging, hating or fearing is only an incredibly complex reflection of our actual Self. Does this mean we should passively accept tyranny? No. Can we love something unconditionally and still try to change it? Absolutely. But it MUST come from a place of understanding, a place of realization that all the things we see in the world around us are manifestations of a Self that we all share. If we do not do this, we only fuel the fire we claim to fight. This transition from negative to positive motivation is in many ways a subtle one, yet it is infinitely powerful in its manifestation. It may not be easy to give up the validated forms of anger and frustration we have towards those who seem to cause it, and it may not be as simple as saying something like “it’s all ok, because we’re all One” or “everything is perfect” (although, as a meditation and constant focus, this latter phrase can accomplish miraculous feats of expansion). But the more we let ourselves let go, releasing the identities we have built around the “Absence”, the more we can let this process happen by forgiving the energy that challenges us, and most importantly by forgiving ourselves.


Love is indeed the answer to every problem we face in this world. But simply to feel the emotion of Love is not enough. Balancing this complex equation of Fear means accepting all of these truths buried deeply within us and turning everything we do, from thought to speech to action, into as much of a labor of Love as we possibly can. Love is hard work sometimes – and we often find it to be so incredibly hard that we dismiss it as impossible, turning to another energy for the sake of our own survival or sanity.  But this other energy – the Other Thing – is still a part of the One Thing, a part of Love. The ground of the dry riverbed is still part of the river. The ones who work tirelessly to keep the dam built are part of the design. As much of a paradox as it may seem, the best way to overpower them is with complete love and acceptance of this. This does not mean complacency; sometimes it can mean more action than before, because we then know what is happening and what we can do, and we are no longer letting our capacity for action be crippled by fear, which is the true root of all other negative emotion and is in many ways the foundation of the Other Thing.

Our True Self and its natural instinct – the part of us that is still connected with the One Thing and that never left the River – lives in Love and knows things are always perfect and complete, and that the flow of the River always takes us exactly where we need to be. Metaphorically, it is the tail, fins and gills of the fish in our story. But the state of things until now has developed a conditioned “instinct” we have come to identify with – the identity of the “limbs” we have grown. We can call this “ego” (as long as we don’t think of it as a bad word). This part of us always feels “one thing away” from the happiness or sense of completion that we desire, whether that “thing” is an object, an action, a word or even simply a thought. Such modes of constantly pursuing a completion that eludes us have come to be defined by the usual meanings of words like “work” and “effort”. Let’s call this “outer work”.  But the removal of this dam requires a different kind of “work”, and a somewhat new definition of “effort”. If you can imagine the difference between the effort it takes to grab tightly onto something and the effort it takes to let go of it (especially if you’ve been holding it for a long time), then you have a vague sort of idea of what I mean. Let’s call this “inner work”. This work is passive, and in many ways is “effortless”. This is, fundamentally, the kind of work that is needed from us to bring down the dam. The goal of all of this is to fully integrate the inner True Self with the outer Ego – to bring our “limbs” into the River, making all our outer work an extension and expression of our inner work. With this integration comes the experience that such “outer work” no longer stems from a place of negative compensation for something that seems “missing”. The “inner work” has an inner truth, which is that “nothing is missing, and everything is already complete and perfect just as is”. The “outer work” has an outer truth, which is that “something is missing or wrong, and I must do something about it”. Although these two truths seem to conflict each other, they are two halves of a whole, of a single Truth that is gradually coming together in clarity for every person on Earth to feel, know and live in every moment. This means knowing what the ego always wants to know – that you are infinitely important, that everything you do is too, and that you are worthy of all the Love you could ever want – without having to try or feel a need to prove any of these things.  You are the puzzle piece that ties it all together… but so is everyone else, whether they know it or not. Let us call this “Truth of Self”. This is the truth of the One Thing, the water of the River. The process of rediscovering this truth is One with the process of removing the dam.   Everything about the human Ego that we have ever seen as an “overblown” sense of self-importance has been an expression of this truth attempting to assert itself in an environment that seems to deny it.  People often become so wrapped up in this need to compensate – in the identities of the “outer work” – that they either act out of fear and manifest more, or pursue self-interest at the expense of others. We ALL have had elements of these things within us – they are the elements of energy that add sticks to the dam. In extreme cases, such people have become very powerful, protected like the beavers who “lodge” inside the dam. But they still have their Truth of Self, even if it makes it harder for you to discover yours. Such challenges make us stronger and help us grow… and soon, with your help, the dam will be gone and this will ALL make sense without having to try, because it will be a natural understanding of the Universe.


If you were surrounded by an environment in which all things were naturally connected into a perfect, infinitely changing Flow, the things you would do to contribute to such an environment would present themselves to you naturally. Whenever you felt “one thing away” from completion, that “one thing” would simply be whatever you did in that moment. Eventually, any worry or fear about what to do in any moment would dissipate entirely and be only a memory of the past. The seamless design of infinite interconnection would be manifest in the lives of everyone, and you would be filling your true purpose in every moment with everything you did. The Truth of Self mentioned above would be an ongoing understanding of every person in the world. All “outer work” and its truth would be a natural function of connection with the “inner work” and its truth.

In the past, political efforts like communism and socialism have been made to recreate this state of society, but with the reality of the dam it has been impossible for such creations to exist without being darkened by elements of power, greed and control. The metaphysical connection of consciousness was simply not there, so the truths of the “inner” and “outer” works could not be fully connected. But now that the dam is coming down, such a reality of equality and interconnection is very likely to occur as part of a natural balance of universal energy, without the need for the political control that has previously been associated with such models. Some people sense the approach of a reality like this and, out of fear, label it as a sinister plan to repeat past failures – but this fear comes from the illusion of surface appearance causing a denial of inner awareness that the One Thing – the natural flow of the “river” – is actually returning to our world. When we have trust and faith in this process, we become an active part of it and work to reveal this truth to ourselves and to others, which can remove this fear and resistance on a collective level. The primary energy that accomplishes all of this is Love.

What I am describing is Utopia – the manifestation of Heaven on Earth. It is an ongoing sense of perfection and completeness that is constantly becoming in its fullnessIt is the metaphorical reality of the River. Despite much of the external appearance of things in our world, such a reality is not only possible – it is much closer than we may think. In fact, it already exists, just beyond the veil – the “dam” – of our perception. That veil is dissolving, getting thinner by the moment. But its appearance has been getting darker and more opaque as this has happened, causing many to believe that it is further away from us than it ever has been. The external layer of the dam seems as big and strong as ever, but this is paradoxically because it is about to come down. We all know that we are here to accomplish something great, but if we are fooled by this external appearance, we may get frantic or dismayed at thoughts of how we are going to do so. In this state of mind, we inadvertently try to build towards this desired reality with “outer work”, forgetting that in the reality we want, all such work is an extension of “inner work”. We keep going and going, always feeling as if there is something left to accomplish before we can feel that sense of completion… or we stop moving entirely, not knowing what we can possibly do. But Heaven on Earth cannot be built with either approach. Heaven is something that can only be discovered as something that is already there. This discovery IS the dissolving of the veil, the felling of the dam, and the return of the River. It is the uniting of the two halves of the Truth of Self. But without a full acknowledgment of the inner part of that Truth, this cannot happen. This acknowledgment is how we bridge the gap and discover Heaven on Earth so that we can build it even more. That inner truth is simple: that everything – absolutely everything – is completely perfect just the way it is, right now in this moment.

The reason this truth often seems contrary to practical living is that it has been missing for so long that we have identified deeply with its absence. How can I fill my true purpose if I am not motivated by a feeling of “lack”? You do have a true purpose to fill. Rest assured it will be filled, by you, while you are alive. This is the way the Universe is designed; it can be no other way. But being motivated by a sense of lack or incompleteness tends to carry with it some energy of worry, fear or judgment. And since we build our reality with what we believe, any energy of “outer work” that we apply from a rooted belief that something is missing actually works to create more of this belief, which makes it increasingly difficult to fulfill our purpose. Without letting go of that belief, this cycle can continue on and on. This release is not instantaneous; it is a gradual process. It requires that we work constantly, every day, at understanding that everything is perfect as it already is. It means letting go of whatever we have to let go of so that we can see this truth, a truth that is beyond the definitions with which we have previously limited the concept of Perfection. This release is often difficult and sometimes seems impossible. We often do need a sense that something is “missing” in order to find it. But if we let go of the judgments that can accompany these external appearances and instead turn inward, we can discover the quiet, powerful sense of Heaven within us that is about to burst through the seams of our collective global consciousness… and in doing so, realize that we are only working to reveal a perfection that is already there, but hidden.

Seeing everything as already Perfect is the ultimate act of Universal Love. Every time we consciously choose this Love over fear, hatred or judgment, we pull a stick out of the dam. We are faced with numerous opportunities every day to do this. The Dam itself has become such a complicated energy, intertwined in aspects of our daily lives that seem unimportant and trivial to this process. They are not. Every small opportunity to practice Universal Love is like a twig in the dam. If you actually had a physical dam to bring down, would you not do it because it was made of small twigs? Would every twig make you think, “this one isn’t important! Where are the big ones?” If so, what would happen if you kept waiting for the big sticks and never found them? This dam has been designed so that the twigs form only the outer layer… the only way to get to the bigger pieces is to address the twigs first. We often feel powerless to bring down the immense evils of the world, as if the “twigs” of our every day experience are of no consequence to such a task. If, however, we try to remember that every tiny moment is intricately connected with the Whole, we know that the small things we do can have dramatic effects. Subtle shifts in inner perspective count greatly toward this process, too. Once we start doing this enough and removing the twigs that form the outer layer of the dam, we find that doing so brings us to the larger sticks, which can then be addressed. Every little twig we work to remove is connected to the twigs of those around us. What happens if we take this a step further and encourage everyone we see, through our example, to do the same thing and to see the hidden perfection in absolutely everything around us? This naturally leads to more and more removal of what is blocking us, closer and closer to the water of the River. Once everyone comes to understand, in their own way, this broader concept of Perfection, the dam will be no more and the “river” of Heaven on Earth will be a reality. But we cannot truly have an effect on the perspective of others until we expand our own.


As we surrender to the flow of the River and allow the truth of Infinite Perfection to reveal itself within us, our “outer work” gradually becomes more fully connected with it. But sometimes (and especially during this process of transition), we find it necessary to do “outer work” that is motivated by its “outer truth” – that something is wrong and that we must fix it – without that truth seeming at all connected to the inner truth that everything is perfect.  If we do not remember that these two seemingly contradictory halves of the Truth of Self are uniting into One, then this can become very confusing. As this merging process happens, something else is happening: the outer truth, as isolated from its other inner half, is becoming somewhat obsolete, at least in the extremes of its manifestations. It is becoming the Old Truth. The Old Truth is at the root of all suffering. As this Old Truth prepares itself for removal from our world, it is becoming more pronounced so that we can draw our attention toward what we either need to accept as Perfect or what we need to change in order to be able to accept this. This has been happening on both the collective, socio-political level and on the personal level, because these things are of course reflections of each other. This merger of Truth requires that the Old Truth morph into one that can be blended with its other half. This basically means a shift to “If I cannot affect it, it is Perfect in this moment as it is, and if I can, I am only working to reveal a Perfection that is already there.” Determining which of these is preferable in any given moment is a matter of one’s personal path, but one thing is certain: that the more we do our “inner work” the less we find a need to change things in others.

When seemingly negative things are beyond the scope of our direct influence, we often feel that all we can “do” about them is judge them as flawed or wrong, and when we can affect them, we are often addicted to similar judgments because the Ego wants to “own” whatever degree of Perfection we might “establish” with what we do. In a way, these two are the same, because the ego claims both to define itself and its sense of power. But these principles are remnants of the Old Truth. They have become like toxins in the collective bloodstream of society that are now coming to the surface as boils so that we can address them. Since they are outgrowths of the same thoughts that went into creating them, their manifestations seem to make us want to think the same things, but if viewed properly can be seen as opportunities to release the thoughts that created them, rather than fueling the issues with more of the same energies. This means accepting the things we cannot change and taking responsibility for the things we can without identifying with the Ego. Right now, these “boils” of Old Truth are helping us to do these two things by showing us how we can use our power and how we cannot.

On the sociopolitical level, this manifests as large social changes that seem to limit the individual and that we cannot change. Right now, the surface appearance of the world has been working hard to show us a picture of increased powerlessness, tempting us further to believe that now, of all times, would be the least likely time for a shift like the one I am talking about to occur. But this is ALL illusion. The ones who have worked to keep the dam built are having to work so much harder in these ways for one reason and one reason only: the pressure behind the dam is building up with such incredible force and strength that it will not last much longer. This pressure symbolically represents an energy that we can actually feel within ourselves if we only turn our attention inward and let go of external appearances and definitions. But if we don’t do this, and instead keep looking at the external world outside of us, we only see a bigger, stronger dam. This, for many, has become increasingly disconcerting. Even many who have long awaited the River have become dismayed in various degrees, wondering what has happened to the knowing they had while young that the One Thing would return and that they would be there for it. This is only a result of being fooled by the illusion itself – which is just another experience such people have chosen to show themselves how powerful their mind actually is. Surely, we all have been doing this, at least to some extent.

On the personal level, the feeling of powerlessness can come when we have difficulty expressing our Truth alongside equal truths that seem to contradict it. This is coming up because in the River, all truths have equality, even if they seem to contradict each other in the presence of the Dam. The meaning of “truth” in the River is beyond the need for opposites like good/bad and right/wrong. Transcending the duality of opposites means recognizing that there are two forms of truth at the core of every conflict, even when they seem mutually exclusive. If there were not, the conflict itself would not exist; this is universal law.

In both cases, to avoid alienation and overcome powerlessness, we are required to expand our perspectives or unite with others of similar perspective – and each usually leads to the other. Both the solidarity of the global protest movement and the dynamics of interpersonal communication have evolved because of this need, and both have been enhanced greatly by the digital revolution.  If we view all of this with the right eyes, we can see that it is working to blend even our collective Ego into the unified understanding that we are all, in fact, One.


I assure you that the River is flowing back into its bed. The One Thing is returning. In fact, many streams of its “water” are already flowing around us; we need only to become one with them again.  We are all connected as one consciousness, even though the external, mind-identified world has created the biggest and most powerful appearance of difference that has ever existed in this world, and perhaps even in this Universe. But infinite unity and infinite diversity are two halves of a whole. The river is the former and the riverbed is the latter. Unity is the Love of the One Thing, and diversity is allowed to develop because of the dam and the dry environment of the riverbed. If you have been educated on the forces that have seemed to make this all difficult, don’t blame this all on Lucifer, a dark cabal of bankers or the “illuminati”; they are parts of this balance. Besides, you added to the process… remember? Don’t “blame” yourself for it either, because blame implies fault and reason for regret. Everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be, including the challenge of seeing past every appearance that it is not. Graduating to the next class level in the great School of Earth means seeing past the differences, past the dam and past the dryness of the riverbed, past the surface of all things and looking at all things and all people with the heart and eyes of unconditional Love. Since we are connected, YOU – and the sticks and twigs that are yours to remove – are absolutely essential to the process of this Ascension (as it is being called) back into the River, back into your true Self. Please join us in this worldwide mission.

If you feel disempowered, start with the small twigs. Figure out what you judge as flawed in the world around you, and release whatever you must in order to allow it to be what it is.Then, if you feel you can help it to change, help remove the dam by moving bigger sticks. But if you don’t remove the small twigs of your judgement, hatred or fear that layer the outside of your desire for action and change first, a great part of your energy goes toward the building of the dam itself without you realizing it. If, however, you accept things as already perfect and then add to that perfection by working to reveal it, your power to bring down the dam builds exponentially.

This may sound relatively simple, but it can be challenging in practice. It does, however, get easier as it goes along, just like the removal of the twigs leads to the big pieces – the sticks and logs – that are blocking out the big flow of sacred water. This water is what you want, whether you realize it or not. Do this and I swear to you that you will feel it, know it and want more. You will know that it is the One Thing, and that it has always been there, just beyond the thin appearance of a veil that has now become disguised as an impenetrable dam. Trust that this process is already built into your ability and that if you just do what comes naturally, you will succeed.

Many are already experiencing the flow of this water, basking in the sacred glow of the One Thing and learning to use their limbs to help them swim in its River. At the same time, many see only the “strengthening” dam and find it almost impossible to turn inward, as if such a transition will threaten them. There are people positioned right next to each other in their daily lives that are experiencing completely opposite perspectives on this scenario, while much about their environment is the same. Some are in heaven, others in hell. Which perspectives are more true? We each determine what is true for ourselves. If the appearance of the “Dam” – of the outer conflict and difference in the world – makes it seem impossible for you to be happy and feel connected with those around you, then that is what you will experience, because your thoughts have incredible power. If, however, you choose to believe this message (and many others like it) and look for the inner unity we all share, you will be more open to experience the truth of the River, of the indescribable One Thing you never really  completely forgot… but you MUST be willing to accept the truth that if the dam seems even stronger to you, it only seems this way to compensate for the fact that it is going away. Plus, many of the biggest logs in the dam are being removed behind the scenes right now, which is about to kick-start this process with immense power. Let go of the attachment to your dry-land identity, and I promise that you will still be yourself. In fact, you will be much more of yourself.

If you still insist on believing that none of this is actually happening – or that it should not happen for some reason – please ask yourself why you believe this. Many fear the loss of their identity, as if the unified consciousness of the River would make them lose their sense of “self”. All I can do is promise you that this is not the case. You do not lose your sense of self in this process; you gain far more of it. All of the “doomsayer” predictions that have evolved around the year 2012 are but collective manifestations of the natural human fear of ego death. But “death” of the Ego does not mean loss of the self or the personality, only the end of identifying completely with such a limited expression of the True Self. We have come to identify so deeply with this partial “self” that we equate the release of that identification with actual, physical death. In this way, fear of the River is just like the fear of death, because we are stepping into the unknown. Many feel it necessary to deny the removal of the dam out of a desire to protect themselves or their loved ones. Either way, Love is the reason. Can you not see that this Love is part of the River itself? One big thing about the River is that we all get to much more consciously create our reality, but the water itself is pure Love; refusing it only blocks that out. At first, there may be people who build their own little dams, denying that the River is even there. We all might be doing this already in our own little ways. So, to that part of you, I ask: how badly do you want to be right?


All of Earth is rising in vibration right now, and quickly. To conclude, let’s add in one more quick metaphor: imagine a completed jigsaw puzzle. If you asked a piece how it felt, it would say it felt infinitely important, knowing it tied the whole puzzle together. If you did the same with a piece from the same puzzle, shaken up in its box, it would tell you otherwise – that it felt alone and disconnected. But would that in any way decrease its importance to the whole picture? Not at all… in fact, you might be pleased to help it back into its rightful place, because then the thrill of reconnection would completely validate to that piece the importance of its seeming disconnection in the box. So what does it mean for Earth’s vibration to increase? It means that the puzzle pieces are coming back into place. Yes, this means that the box is being shaken up extra hard, but that doesn’t change the truth of what is happening. In fact, to those with the eyes to see, it is only an indication that things are about to come together in a much larger sense. But since your very agreement to identify with thought in the first place was what built your part of the dam – was your part of “shaking up the box” – then your very same willingness to release thought is required for things to come back together, for the dam to fall and for the puzzle to reassemble. Unnecessary thought is what builds the dam and what shakes up the box. It blocks the flow of the Infinite Love that is knocking quietly at the doors of your awareness.  This is what Ascension is… the opening of oneself to an energy of Love so powerful and all-encompassing that it becomes the essence of everything to you. In truth, it already is. WE just need to get out of our own way to experience it again. This means letting go of the constructs of thought we have come to identify with and allowing ourselves to embrace larger forms of Truth that transcend the duality of opposites, of alternate perspectives being “false” so that ours can be true. In the old mindset, “love” is something that can also have an opposite, like hatred or fear. The Greater Love – that of the One Thing, the water of the River – is an infinite energy of connection that has no opposite. What we have experienced as darkness and negativity have been part of the game. It has been part of that Greater Love, even though it has not seemed like it. That Love carries with it an awareness of connection and meaning that makes all of this amazingly clear – but if that seems preposterous or unlikely to you,  please simply try to let go of such thoughts. Trust this message and know that this really is happening and that You are a part of it, even if you don’t feel like you are. You are the puzzle piece that ties the whole picture together. Youare at the sacred Center of the One Thing. You are a fish with limbs, standing there and looking at a dam that seems bigger and more powerful than ever… and it is you who will find that by simply pulling out a few twigs and releasing all of that fear and judgment, the illusion will break, along with the dam. That water – that LOVE – is what you want. It is what you need. It is what you ARE.

And believe me when I tell you that you already know how to swim.

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Looking Toward the Future: Linear vs. Conceptual Views

I have previously written about Linear vs. Conceptual thinkers, and it’s a post that gets a lot of google hits.  Plus, I’m noticing how many people are wondering about what the future holds, what changes are in store, and how that’s going to happen.   In the meantime, I’m re-reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.  This is my attempt to put all three together to help describe what in my opinion is a global transition from the Linear to the Conceptual.

Linear Thinking goes step by step.  It’s methodical and tends to follow rules (which have been established based on what has worked in the past).  Some disciplines are more linear than others, but linear thinking can be applied to any situation.  Even someone doing something very creative, say learning to paint, can take lessons based on someone else’s methods.  Then they might use these methods to create a unique picture – but it would still be largely a linear creation.

Conceptual Thinking sees the big picture. While holding the picture of the destination in mind, the conceptual thinker lets creative ideas bubble up in each moment and is constantly evaluating possibilities and how they will contribute to reaching the goal. Conceptual thinkers are those who can think outside the box.

The two approaches, on a day-to-day basis, might not appear so different.  There may be similar steps undertaken to reach the goal.  It’s just that the Linear approach will rely on established methods or external direction in deciding what the steps will be; the Conceptual Approach will be much more fluid and adaptable.  The Conceptual thinker will consider the established methods alongside creative options that haven’t been tried before.  The Conceptual thinker relies on inner guidance and intuition, rather than what others think they should do.

So, in any one job or industry or task, there might be those who approach things mostly Linearly and those who approach them more Conceptually.  I had mentioned before, the biography of Steve Jobs is a great description of a very conceptual approach in a linear world.  I am sure that those who were drawn to working at Apple, and those who were hired, were largely conceptual thinkers.

Of course, if we are looking at this as a Transition, then any individual will use their own a blend of Linear and Conceptual; there is a broad range of approaches amongst people and organizations as we move toward becoming more conceptual.

How does this relate to how we are looking at the future?

When Linear Thinkers look at the future, they tend to extrapolate – they project what has happened in the past, and extend that into the future.  When they are trying to figure out what’s going to happen, they assume a lot of sameness, a continuation of what has been.

When Conceptual Thinkers look at the future, they allow themselves to dream.  They ask, What If…?  They ponder the possibilities.  They don’t assume things will remain the same.  And they are less concerned with how they will get there – they know that they will come up with something to try, and if that doesn’t work, well, they’ll try something else until they get there.

These days, the Linear Thinkers are looking forward and all they see is more of the same.  More conflict, more war, more government, more problems like the ones we have always had.  Based on the fact that these problems have not been solved in the past, they see no way out.  Their impulse is to try harder in applying the old methods, despite the fact that those methods aren’t working.

The Conceptual Thinkers, however, don’t see why we have to remain in that rut.  They aren’t totally sure of how we get out, but they know we can get creative, and try some new approaches.  As long as we keep trying, they know we can get to a future that is different, if we put our minds to it.  Anything is possible, and there is no such thing as failure.  If one thing doesn’t work, you just try another.

But, especially when looking at the future, the Conceptual Thinkers can have a hard time totally breaking out of the habit of Linear thinking.  Since the world has been largely linear, we are used to knowing how things are going to work.  When a Conceptual thinker shares their vision of a brighter tomorrow, they are still asked, “how will that happen?”  And we still want to know the answer to that question.  It’s not totally comfortable or satisfying to answer, “I don’t know how we get there, I just know we can do it!”  This is when conceptual thinkers are called foolish or crazy.  Fully jumping off the cliff and trusting that it’s all going to be ok still takes a lot of faith (and yes, maybe craziness) to believe.

So now let me try to bring this all together with The Tipping Point.  The book focuses on how trends happen based on real world examples.

This is really important: Gladwell points out that his conclusions represent radical thinking about how the world worksThe world doesn’t actually work the way we think it does.

Trends spread just like epidemics which have three characteristics:

  • Contagiousness
  • The fact that little causes can have big effects
  • That change happens not gradually but at one dramatic moment (the Tipping Point)

Then there’s the Law of the Few:  “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.”  Gladwell describes how the Connectors, the Mavens, and the Salesmen each play a role in spreading new information.  If you haven’t read the book I hope you do – I found his descriptions of how these people operate very recognizable.

There is a “stickiness factor” – the information or the message has to be memorable enough to spark one’s interest.  And Context matters more than we might think – basically that the timing and the environment have to be right for change to be possible.

We all know how great ideas don’t always “make it.”  Gladwell describes how an innovative idea might be accepted by the “Early Adopters,” but there has to be a process of “translation” that occurs to make that great idea acceptable and understandable to the majority.  Certain people act as Translators to reframe the message or product into an acceptable form.

What if the spread of conceptual thinking is the epidemic of the day?

We are ready for this one.

My personal observations lead me to conclude that we are on the cusp of a radical change in thinking, a sudden transition to a world that thinks conceptually and creatively, that is not bound by rules and linear thinking.  When is the Tipping Point?  Some people want to know the date when this will occur – but that is the old Linear paradigm wanting the know the details.  As a conceptual thinker, I may be called a fool or a dreamer…..but I can tell you that my faith and craziness tell me we are going to get there, whenever and however it happens.

“Those who are successful at creating social epidemics do not just do what they think is right.  They deliberately test their intuitions.”

“What must underlie successful epidemics, in the end, is a bedrock belief that change is possible, that people can radically transform their behavior or beliefs in the face of the right kind of impetus.  This, too, contradicts some of the most ingrained assumptions we hold about ourselves and each other.”


Who Really Matters?

This is just way too good not to share…..comes directly from Scott Sonnon:

You don’t need to answer my questions. Just consider them, and continue to read straight through. You’ll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five female gold medal winners from the past Olympics.

4. Name five people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5. Name six Academy Award winner for best actor and actress.

6. Name five of the last World Cup winning teams.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List five teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name five friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name six people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a five people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

very respectfully,
Scott Sonnon

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What would Jesus say about life on Earth today? I love this analogy about housecleaning and renovations.

Jesus through John

Humanity’s awakening is moving ahead very auspiciously as the divine energies you are availing of to help you on your way continue to strengthen and intensify with each passing day.  If you could really comprehend what you are achieving as you focus on being loving at all times, and by sharing your love indiscriminately with all with whom you interact, you would be absolutely flabbergasted.

You are on Earth at this point in humanity’s spiritual evolution for precisely this purpose, and despite the difficulties with which such a life has presented you, you are maintaining your purpose and delivering what you promised – an almost constant demonstration of loving wisdom in action – and, as a direct result, inspiring all those with whom you interact to do likewise.  You deserve and will receive the highest accolades and commendations for the devotion and determination you are bringing to this essential task…

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How Often are You the Critic?

A post by author Scott Goodknight about his soon-to-be-released book Finding Your Hero is what prompted my thinking, which led to a personal understanding, which I’m writing about in this post…’s what he wrote:

There are two things that most people spend a great deal of energy trying to avoid: Pain and Suffering. Just remember that PAIN is inevitable and suffering is optional.

The Victim suffers not from the original injury which eventually heals. They make themselves suffer over and over and over for years by holding onto a burning resentment towards their perpetrator and not owning their part in the situation. Sometimes owning your part just means you admit you are being resentful. Forgive.

The Critic suffers because the voice they use to criticize others runs 24/7 against themselves. They are their own worst enemy. And in truth they are secretly “projecting” their own character flaws onto others to distract people from seeing those flaws in THEM. If you spot it you got it. Don’t Judge.

The Bystander suffers from a long slow agonizing death of envy and shame. Envy because they aren’t doing what they KNOW they are capable of. They then watch helplessly from the supposed safety of the sidelines at others on the playing field of life. But they die a thousand deaths of shame. Get in the game.

The HERO knows that the PAIN of rejection, ridicule and opposition from others in INEVITABLE. S/he knows that people WILL shoot the arrows of sarcasm at ANYONE that attempts to stand up on a stage and speak their truth to the world, or crawl out of the bucket of crabs and into the light.

They know this is the price of leadership, creativity, innovation, discovery and breakthroughs of EVERY nature. The HERO knows that opposition is a sign that they are on the right path. Because if it were easy….everyone would be doing it.

Like I said: I’m not telling you its going to be EASY, I’m telling you its going to be WORTH it. The mindset of the Hero will enable you to endure the inevitable pain that comes with learning and growth, (with grace and poise) and not suffer unduly.

Be the Hero!

So, I started thinking about these mindsets, and how and when I fit them, and how and when the people around me fit into them.  I already agree with the observation that people will go to great lengths to avoid pain and suffering.  It’s HOW people go about that avoidance that is really interesting.

It seems to me that we all fall into these categories at times.  But it also seems that if you observe yourself or someone else enough, you can see that some people are very attached to certain mindsets.  And groups of people can get into the groove of a mindset and magnify it.  My personal revelation was, that for a good part of my life, I have had a front row seat in a theatre dominated by Critics.

Please remember, I am motivated by trying to understand.  I have no interest in making someone else wrong for the way they are.  I believe everyone has their place, every situation has its purpose, and by understanding these interactions, we can learn lessons and gain wisdom.  As I look at the dynamic I have observed over all these years, I cannot tell you how grateful I am for having this experience.  It’s exactly what I needed to experience and understand, so that I could grow as a person.

It seems to me that most of us start out life assuming that other people are pretty much the same as we are.  We grow up in a family with certain dynamics, and that’s all we know, and we accept that without thinking about it too much.  When we meet others and interact with other groups of people, we assume they will react and interact and make decisions pretty much the same way we do.

For those who remain in a pretty homogenous culture, this might be mostly true.  If the accepted norms are well-defined and followed, it’s a pretty good bet to expect certain behaviors and interactions.  If we can assume agreement with our belief system, there won’t be much questioning and therefore any reason to defend it.

But these situations are less and less common in the world today.  Even if the people you see on a day-to-day basis are “like you,” there is still a lot of exposure to people who are very different.  And we are all familiar with the conflicts and disagreements that result.  It’s harder and harder to find another person who thinks exactly like you do on every topic.  Maybe impossible.

So, what do we do when we have that realization that others aren’t operating the way we expected them to or believe what we believe or have different priorities?  When they aren’t doing what we think they are supposed to do?

Well, we don’t like it.  It doesn’t make sense.  We want to continue following the dynamic we were taught.  It feels right to us, even if it was dysfunctional at some level.  It’s comfortable.  We know what “they” should do and how “they” should act.

When we experience this conflict, we can feel sorry for ourselves that these people don’t get it, we can go inward and put up a wall and feel protected that way.  This is the emotional response of a Victim.  We can also step back and detach and become a Bystander and avoid the interaction.

But I want to talk about the Critic mindset as observed through the eyes of a social scientist in their midst.  The Critic feels safe knowing that his belief system will keep him on track.  He has a personal paradigm that he feels is “right” and the way he maintains this feeling of safety is to defend this belief system.  If another person or culture questions this belief system, this is seen as a threat that must be eliminated.  There is such a strong attachment to the belief system that it must be defended at all costs.  The belief system becomes the Critic’s identity.

The Critic impulse comes from a place of insecurity.  Maybe this insecurity is associated with a very specific aspect of the person, so that the critic behavior is only seen when this vulnerable spot is poked.  Or maybe the insecurity is more pervasive, resulting in a prevalence of Critic behavior.  The Critic desperately wants to feel good about himself/herself and by putting others down and pointing out their faults, the spotlight is deflected onto others and away from his own vulnerability.  Another way to describe this is that a Critic fears being bad and unloved.  If the belief system, as in many religions, requires that you must follow the rules or else you are punished for eternity, then this is way too scary to face, so the Critic must follow the rules at any cost.  And because Critics do care about those around them, they will desperately try to force others to conform, or persuade others to do or think as they do.  Anyone can have and express strong opinions, but the Critic takes this one step further and is very invested in spreading his paradigm.  He’s an evangelist who won’t take no for an answer.

Because Critics focus on being right, that means anyone who thinks differently is wrong.  The mindset is very competitive.  As long as a Critic can defeat the competition, everything is in order.  Critics will tell you there are a lot of idiots out there.

Critics are easily offended.  They react with anger.  They are strong in defending themselves.  They see others as enemies.  They want justification.  The ends justify the means; if someone else gets hurt along the way, well, that’s just the way it is.  Deal with it.

Their inability to question their own belief system means there is limited or no ability for Critics to self-reflect.  They have no interest in understanding and thinking about other viewpoints, because this would cause a crack in the armor of their safety net.  Critics can see this behavior in others, but it is almost impossible for them to see it in themselves.  (HINT:  If this all sounds familiar because you see this behavior in your parents or other family members….well, you may not be as strong a Critic, and you might have a more tolerant belief system….but you probably incorporate more Critic behavior than you’d like to admit.)

When Critics are faced with situations where their beliefs are in conflict with the reality around them, they would rather change their belief system than admit they were wrong.  What was unacceptable a few years ago, may suddenly become acceptable now.  To the outsider this looks like hypocrisy.  To the Critic, he is only maintaining his wall of safety at whatever cost is necessary.

A distinction that is really important to understand is this:  the victim/critic/bystander/hero dynamic is TOTALLY separate from differences in belief system.  By this I mean, you can share the same basic belief system, yet have a vastly different balance of dynamics.

The Critic might have a very “good” belief system.  And one of the methods of the Critic is to spend a lot of time talking about how “good” it is.  But defending the belief system is more important than the actual beliefs.

Two people or groups can share a mostly Critic mindset, for example, yet have vastly different belief systems.  This is where we get the conflicts that lead to hate and war.  Each side feels justified at defending their view and desperate to defend themselves at the same time.  There is no room for conflict resolution here.  It’s fight to the death or until one side breaks.

It can be very confusing for a person who does not come from a background with a Critic mindset, to interact with Critics, even if they share a similar belief system.  A person who is used to self-reflection and questioning in order to learn and grow finds themselves viewed as a threat and treated as such when they speak up or disagree, even if they are just pondering or musing.  Critics won’t necessarily render harsh judgment on others if they don’t come on strong – they more likely will express their opinions in a powerful way, making their stand very clear.  If they are contradicted in gentle ways, they are likely to use ridicule or to discount as foolish opposing views.  One learns not to disagree, lest you incur the wrath of the Critic.  The critic uses Power and Fear of Reprisal to keep others at bay.

Critics have a hard time with constructive criticism, even from a person who they know has their best interests at heart.  Critics assume that others are Critics too – and if you disagree with them, you must be attacking them!  And don’t call them on the fact that they are judgmental – then you are being too sensitive!

The very sad part about interacting with Critics is that their mindset makes it impossible for them to heal their insecurities.  This reminds me of a wonderful sermon I heard over 20 years ago that talked about how we help people when we share our vulnerabilities, not when we put up a false façade of perfection.  Critics have a hard time being vulnerable, because they have to retain the illusion that they are perfect and they always know what’s right.  They can’t give themselves permission to have faults or weaknesses.  They cannot be wrong.

So why does any of this matter?  As I see it, the dynamic of the Critic is at the root of most of the conflict in this world.  If the world is going to become more peaceful, we have to break the cycle of the Critic.  This cycle is an impediment to tolerance and understanding.  Only by breaking the cycle will those who are using this mindset to avoid dealing with their inner pain learn to heal it.  And we must heal ourselves first before we can heal our relationships with others, which is the path toward tolerance and understanding of our sisters and brothers across the globe.

Critics need unconditional love.  This can be tough to give when being pushed around by a Critic.  At the core of a Critic, is the inability to believe that unconditional love exists.  A Critic never feels good enough.

One of the toughest challenges I have faced is to have my personal worth attacked directly by my own child, as he repeats the model of Critic behavior he has seen in action.  I have had to learn to remain detached, not let my ego take hold and get defensive, while still remaining confident in my own self-worth and still affirming that I love him despite his actions.   This has been my own personal walk across the hot coals in pursuit of becoming a Hero.


Very happy to have found this blog!

living peacefully with children

I’m happy to share a guest post with you today. Kassandra Brown of Parent Coaching speaks of how conflict can be an opportunity. In addition to sharing her thoughts here concerning how we can turn conflict into a way to both connect and better understand our children and ourselves, Kassandra has a special coaching offer for readers. She is willing to offer three free coaching sessions to the first person who asks. Consultations are always free. If you are looking for a way to change how you communicate and interact with your children, she is willing to help.


When children disobey parents, parents are often told – by experts and other parents – that a Time Out is the solution. We’re told that our children need consequences. We’re told it’s a good idea, and it will give them time to think about what they’ve done. We’re told if…

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Why You Shouldn’t Make Your Kindergartener Wear His Coat

When my kids were younger, I went through a period of time where I devoured parenting books.  I’ve always had this sense that I’m here for the purpose of parenting my kids specifically and I’ve taken that role really seriously.  (To be clear, I don’t read self-help stuff to figure out what I should do, as in blindly following whatever some “expert” says.  Rather, I like to gather LOTs of opinions and perspectives, consider them all, then decide what seems to fit my situation.)

One book that really resonated with me was Parenting With Love and Logic by Cline and Fay.  I think I read this about the time my oldest was in kindergarten, because that was when we were having the struggle over whether to wear a coat or not.  Ironically (synchronistically?) one of the first examples they use in the book is exactly this.

I remember the fights about the coat.  Trying to use logic and persuasion, trying to demand he wear his coat, knowing that I would be judged by teachers and other parents if he went without, reading the warnings that came home from school about dressing your child properly.

Well, when I was a kid, I did what I was told.  That was my personality.  People who have kids with this kind of personality (or no kids at all!) will just tell you that you need to control your kid and tell him what to do.  Well, they don’t know my kid.  You can’t just tell him what to do and get compliance.  He wants to make his own decisions.  (Don’t believe me?  I should just be more firm?  HAHAHAHA!!  Want to borrow him for a day??)

The authors of this book actually encourage this approach to parenting – allowing kids to make their own decisions, even if this means they fail.  So, I didn’t make him wear a coat.  I might tell him that it was going to be cold that day, but if he didn’t take the hint and wear a coat, that was his decision.

After going through this exercise, I came to see this approach as a very positive way to empower my child.  When I let him make the decision about whether to wear a coat or not, the subtle message was, “I trust you to know when you are cold and need a coat.  You are capable of making this decision.”  It also let him experience the natural consequences of not wearing a coat.

Look, the kid was not going to die if he didn’t wear a coat one day.  It might make me cringe, it might worry his teachers, but in the end, the lesson and the message were way more effective and important.  The other side benefit, not to be underestimated, was the freedom from responsibility that I gained!  He was learning to take responsibility for himself, and once the lesson was learned, I was off the hook!!

But watch out, because this approach runs counter to the prevailing culture of parenting these days.  Another person who recognizes this trend is Lenore Skenazy, who wrote the book Free Range Kids and a blog with the same name.   Lenore is always pointing out the instances where our culture’s focus on protecting our kids from harm (even statistically insignificant harm) stifles our kids.

Of course there’s a balance.  We need some rules to keep our kids from doing really dangerous or really stupid stuff.  But as they get older, we need to let them make age-appropriate mistakes.  It’s the only way they will learn how to turn experience into wisdom.  If we do all their thinking for them, they will not develop this skill.

Believe me, many times I have wished that I could just tell my kids what to do, and that they would never question me.  It would make life so much more peaceful and easier.  The interplay of strong personalities and strong opinions is exhausting.  But I’m seeing the results.

The kid is very responsible.  At age 14, he was in Rome with his grandfather, who fell and had to go to a hospital by ambulance.  The kid totally took charge of the situation, questioned the doctors about what was up, and made sure he knew exactly which meds his grandfather should take when.  At age 15, he flew home by himself on a connecting flight, and had to switch terminals in the Atlanta airport.  I understand that not all kids have the personality to do these things at these ages, but I do believe that most kids are capable of WAY more than we give them credit for.  But it doesn’t just happen overnight, it’s a process of growth.  You have to recognize the opportunities for your particular kid and encourage them in the way that works for them, at the time that is appropriate for them.

The other aspect of taking this approach is that the parent has to choose not to let fear be in control.  There is so much “fear porn” out there and it is so easy to let that drama take hold.  For me, it comes down to a choice to view the world with faith, that God is in control.  I realize I’m on the “extreme” end of the scale on this one, which works for me.  Each parent has to decide where they are comfortable being on the scale of fear vs. trust.

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When the Rules no Longer Work

Unless you have put up a very thick wall, and you have shut your eyes very tight, well, these days it is pretty impossible not to notice that there are situations that are just not making sense any more, situations that seem impossible.  Trying to figure out what to DO in these situations is not at all easy.

We all have a personal paradigm that gives us a framework for understanding how life is supposed to work.  Your paradigm might be described as a set of rules that help you know what to do, what’s right and wrong, what will help you have a good life or a bad life.  Many paradigms are strongly associated with a religious tradition.  And many could be summed up pretty much like this:  If you follow the rules and do everything “right,” then you will have a good life and you will be happy.  The other side to a paradigm based on following the rules, is that if you DON’T follow the rules, you are BAD and there will be BAD consequences.

To be blunt, this way is no longer working because it is based on an outdated understanding of the purpose of life.  I know that’s a strong statement, and I don’t expect everyone to agree.  But please take a deep breath and step back and think this through with me.

First, understand that a core belief that I hold to be true is that God IS unconditional love.  That means it is impossible to do anything unforgivable.  That means you are loved as perfect just the way you are.   This life is not black and white, it is complicated, and God only wants you to do the best you can do.  Jesus taught this – to look beyond the many rules of the Old Testament and to Love One Another.

Second, the purpose of life is NOT to “follow the rules or else something bad will happen.”  The purpose of life is to do the best you can and to LEARN LESSONS that lead to a greater understanding of LOVE.  Humanity has spent many years in rule-based living.  We are getting to the point where an over-emphasis on rules is holding us back.  Just read the book Practical Wisdom to understand what I’m talking about.

Third, you have to think about who you are.  You are not your body.  You are not your name.  You are not just the role you were born into.  Rather, you are a piece of God.  You are a soul.  You have a greater purpose.  While you are on this Earth, you forget all this.  And there is a reason for that.  Because if you remembered everything you know about God, you would not take the challenges of this life seriously.  You would not go through the difficult situations of life to learn those hard lessons.

Fourth, you can’t confuse behavior with intent.  You can’t assume you know someone’s intent just based on behavior.  You have to listen, you have to ask, you have to work to understand what’s going on with another person.  This is true for everyone who is affected by a situation.

What can you do?  Understand that the rules are there to help and guide, but their usefulness is limited.  Let go of the fear of doing something wrong.  Develop a trust in God that everything has a purpose, even if you can’t see it, and let go of worry.

Instead, look at every situation as an opportunity to learn a lesson.  I’m talking about lessons that have a deep meaning, not watching someone else “learn a lesson” so you can say “I told you so!”

Do you need to learn to value yourself, to love yourself enough to say no to others?  Do you need to love others enough to let them make their own decisions?  Do you have a distorted view of what love is?

Parents love their children.  It can be extremely painful to watch their children learn their own lessons.  One way to avoid this kind of pain is to enforce rules that will keep their children safe.  We all do this when we teach our kids not to run out into the street.  But at some point, we have to let our kids make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons.  The irony here is, if we care “too much” and try to control what our kids are exposed to by strictly enforcing the rules (even if they are “good” rules), those kids might learn to understand that those who apply strict rules are being loving.  Whose rules are “right”?  What is the real meaning and way to demonstrate love?  These are really tough lessons to learn about love.

Deep inside, we all know that we are lovable just the way we are.  Despite good intentions, too many rules contain the hidden message that we are only lovable if we follow the rules.  If we break a rule, we feel very guilty and conclude that we are bad.

How many times do we judge kids as “bad” based solely on the way they dress?  ALL THE TIME!  Kids KNOW that this doesn’t make sense and deep inside this is a painful lesson to learn – that despite knowing that superficial things don’t make us unlovable, adults (and even parents) contradict this all the time.

There are those who are so giving toward others, their own self suffers.  See my Always Be Nice post.  This is one of those balance issues.  When does serving others go too far?   We each need to love ourselves enough to expect respect from others and recognize when we are giving too much.

A crisis situation or a glaring conflict with one’s trusted paradigm is an opportunity that presents a choice.  One can play it safe and hold on tighter to the rules and being “right.”  Each person in the scenario will have to make a choice, and these choices are likely to conflict.  Things get stuck.  They don’t get resolved.  There is no learning or healing.

Getting too focused on the rules, and who is right or wrong, can also have the unintended consequence of backing the other party into a corner.  If you do not respect the other person’s right to have their own opinion, and they know deep inside that it is their life and that they are entitled to make their own decisions, then you force them to take a stand.

A different choice is to step back and evaluate, which is SCARY.  You might need to take another look at those rules, and you might have to consider abandoning some.  The scariest part of all is probably self-reflection.  It’s easier to be offended with someone else or their actions, which allows you to avoid looking at yourself.  I’m not saying you have to agree with another’s actions – that’s a separate conclusion.  I’m talking about the process you use to get to your conclusions.  It’s all about setting aside fear and ego, and getting thoughtful and unemotional.  HARD work.

What might be most important, is to remind yourself that people who care about each other really are usually trying to do the right thing.  If the right thing to them, is hurtful to you, you may have to be strong and point that out.  You might have to watch and see if the other person is more interested in following the rules and being right, than in finding the best way to express love.  We all have baggage and bad habits that we have picked up from life.  The best thing we can do with people we love, is to gently point out what we see, and be there to support each other in working to let go of what is not serving our best interests.

Maybe the most important thing of all comes back to faith:  God is in control.  We are not.  Pray for comfort, guidance and the ability to learn and understand the lessons we are presented with.


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