Seeing the best in life's challenges

There’s Good to Come of It

A lot of Good in the world comes as a direct result of Challenges.

Sometimes an extreme, bad situation seems to be needed in order for us as a society to pay attention to problems that need to be addressed.

Personal challenges can lead to the greatest personal growth.    I have noticed that many of the people I admire for their compassion and ability to address problems, have been influenced greatly by the tough times they went through.  Those experiences enable individuals to develop greater empathy, and give them the wisdom and credibility to help others get through their own situations.

There’s a conundrum, though, because when you embrace this concept, it almost seems like you would WELCOME tough times and strife and bad situations.

It’s important to understand that while you can look for the good to come out of a situation, you would never wish for it to occur.  There’s a tension here that is uncomfortable.

For example, let’s say a parent experiences the sickness and death of a child to some disease.  No one would EVER wish for this for anyone.  But has there been good to come out of this kind of situation?  Of course – support groups created, pushes to raise money for cures, greater empathy for others with similar experiences, medical professionals who learn from previous experiences how to support and cure disease.

This is just a contradictory aspect of the world we live in.  Am I wrong?

We could say, no kid should ever get sick and die.  Well, that’s nice to say, and I would agree, but it’s an opinion and not a statement that fits the reality of the world we live in.

So let’s talk about Trump.  Will good come from our experiences of the last four years?  I am willing to bet that LOTs of good will come as a direct result of his presidency.  Having him in office has shown us so many aspects of life in America that need improving.  And I am talking about aspects that are important to BOTH “sides.”

There’s a lot we need to address.  In the end, I think that having ourselves “shaken up” will be a good thing.

Should we have been hoping for a successful overthrow of our government in order to access the good that is to come?

I think the answer is the same as, are you hoping that little kid gets sick and dies?

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Let’s Talk About Strife

I guess if there were ever a time to talk about strife, it’s now.  I haven’t written in a long time, partly because of the thought “well who am I to tell anyone how it is” but it just feels like I should say some stuff and put it out there.

I try to take the approach that I sit back and watch.  I try to watch and remain open to various perspectives so that I am seeing the whole picture.  I know I am not really seeing the whole picture (there’s not enough time in the day) so the point of me saying this is that I try to remain open-minded.

There is tremendous pressure now to “take sides”.  And what I find most interesting, is that when you pick a side, you have to agree with everything that “that side” stands for.

And I find myself with mixed opinions and conclusions.  My perspective agrees with one side on some things, and the other side on others.

Realistically, isn’t that the way most of us would be, if it weren’t for the blame/shaming, peer pressuring, fear-mongering, advocating of both sides?

I think there are good points and important things to consider on both sides of most issues that are controversial these days.

“Taking sides” is not terribly useful or productive in helping us move forward.

What is helpful, is careful consideration of all arguments, willingness to see the perspectives of others, and being open-minded.

With that in mind, I’m going to try to get a few posts together and see what happens. 

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Checking in…

Hey there.  I haven’t been here to write in a really LONG time.

Just sayin’

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The Truth Hurts

The truth hurts, so they say. I recently ran across this quote:


Truth is like a surgery. It hurts but it heals.

A Lie is like a painkiller. It gives instant relief

but has side effects forever.


After googling, this quote seems to have an unknown origin, however, it may be based on a quote by Han Suyin:  “Truth, like surgery, may hurt, but it cures.”

We can talk of Truth in terms of Facts, but even Facts can be questioned. What is the Truth? This is a question that is not as easy to answer as it seems it should be.

It seems to me that the kinds of Truth that are relevant to the quote, are Truths about perceptions, feelings, and consistencies.  They are personal Truths.

When, or in what instances, does Truth “hurt”? When do we not want to hear the Truth? When do we hesitate to tell the Truth?

I am specifically interested in the dynamic of how truthful we are when we are interacting with other individuals. There are two sides to this – how we express information and how we take in information. There is telling – either the truth, a partial truth, a white lie, or a flat-out Lie – and there is listening and reacting to what is said to us.

As far as being the Truth-Teller, it seems to me that the act of telling the Truth doesn’t hurt the one doing the telling. It “hurts” the person who doesn’t want to hear the Truth. So why wouldn’t each of us always tell the Truth, if that doesn’t hurt? Why would we hesitate?

When we know that telling the Truth will hurt another person, we hesitate, because we don’t want to cause pain. We don’t want to put that person through surgery! If it’s not an important issue, we might tell a White Lie to avoid hurting that person, and that’s no big deal. That’s not a matter of surgery, right? The quote is talking about important Truth.

Maybe we previously told the Truth, and the pain that it caused resulted in the other person getting angry, lashing out, getting defensive, or otherwise reacting in a way that we don’t want to experience again. We don’t want to deal with the consequences, so we withhold the Truth in the future. Have you fallen into this pattern? Are you a habitual “nice guy” who tells people what they want to hear, who doesn’t want to disappoint anyone? We may each have a different level of tolerance for negative feedback or dealing with conflict which influences how often we tell the truth.

How Truthful we are with another individual may depend on what kind of relationship we have with that person. The quote as I take it, is talking about people we know and are close to. For one thing, if we tell a stranger a tough truth, we have no idea what kind of reaction we are going to get. AND we also probably don’t really have enough information in a lot of cases to really have the right facts to be sure we really know the whole truth.

Then there’s the kind of “truth-telling” which is not about another person personally, it’s stating an idea about “the way things are” and is more global. This also doesn’t seem like surgery to me, and doesn’t lead to healing. This is a different subject than what I am talking about right now.

We all probably know people who “tell it like it is” or are blunt, and this is a kind of truthful. But these people don’t always know enough to be saying what they say.  I am not sure that the truth that comes from them is always a surgery that leads to healing.

In situations where you are dealing with a person you are close to, and you are dealing with an important issue, are you aware of how truthful you are? Are you aware of when you tell the Truth and when you withhold the Truth? Do you know why you are hesitating?

If you are not telling the Truth, how do you do it? Do you say words you know aren’t true, just to avoid the pain? Do you remain silent, to avoid having to say anything? Do you nod in agreement, even though you don’t agree? Do you say yes, when you mean no? Do you say no, when you mean yes?  If someone asks you to be honest with them, do you have a hard time telling them the Truth?

Can you recognize the “side effects” of not telling the Truth?

Let’s switch to the other side of the equation of Truthfulness – that is, how do you receive information that is given to you? Do you actually want to hear the Truth, even if it hurts?

It’s a good question to think about: Is surgery worth it? Do you want to heal, even if that means you have to go through pain? Or would you rather avoid or dull the pain, and not deal with whatever your issue is? Do you see the downside of avoidance?

If your overriding desire is to avoid the pain, then I think you are not alone. We tend to want to avoid our own issues, inconsistencies, fears, weaknesses, shortcomings…. whatever things we have going on that someone else might want to point out to us.

HOW we communicate these kinds of Truths can make a huge difference in being able to face them. And to be perfectly honest, I am not sure that hearing a difficult Truth has to be so terribly painful. We have been told that the Truth hurts, but if someone we know is telling us something in Truth, and we know that they love us and want what is best for us, we might still feel sad or disappointed in ourselves – but not automatically devastated, right? If we recognize that every human being has their own “stuff” they are working on, we don’t have to feel like a “bad person” just because we aren’t “perfect.”

So what I get from thinking about the quote is, it is in my best interest to hear the Truth, even if I don’t like it. It is in my best interest to cultivate relationships with others who know me, love me, want what is best for me – and are also willing to be Truthful with me.

I think it’s also important to remember that the Truth is usually more complicated than we like to express. Developing an honest relationship with another person, also involves becoming good at communicating, back and forth, to explore whatever the issue is, and to refine our descriptions and the aspects of Truth.

When you tell someone a Truth as you see it, are you sure that you are right? Presenting this Truth as your perception, given the facts that you have, is a good way to keep the discussion open, as there might be something you don’t know that would change your conclusions. Are you open to additional information? Are you able to see the situation from the other person’s viewpoint?

When your friend tells you a Truth that doesn’t seem quite right, can you ask questions and understand what they are saying, before you react? Can you purposely put off your reaction, and give yourself time to ponder the issue at hand?

Can you offer more information, an explanation, without getting defensive? Do you immediately tell the other person what they did wrong, deflecting the subject so you don’t have to self-reflect? Do you know anyone you are close to, who has stopped having deep conversations with you?

I have a couple people in my life, who I have concluded that I just can’t be honest with. I care about them, I want them to be happy, and I respect that they are living their lives in the ways they choose, and all that is just fine. Yet I see inconsistencies that have negative consequences, and are subjects that they get very agitated and defensive about. They seem to have formed opinions about me, my actions, my motivations, etc. that I know are not Truth, but they don’t want to hear any different. They seem to want to be “right” and I am “wrong.” I feel misunderstood.  I would love to be able to understand each other, and it may very well be that our two ways of being are incompatible going forward – and to me, that might just be how it is and that is ok. I am at peace with that. Ironically, they are not at peace with it. IF we could have an honest, non-judgmental discussion about it, we might be able to heal. But sometimes we have to be able to be Truthful to find healing.

Do you recognize situations of your own where this is going on?

My approach is to be aware of when someone you trust, who you know loves you and has your best interests at heart, tells you a “Truth” that you don’t like hearing. Can you listen to what they are saying? Can you acknowledge that it hurts to hear it, yet not react as if this person is attacking you? Do you launch a counter attack? Or do you listen and ask questions to clarify and learn more?

The point is not that you have to agree with the other person, if you think they don’t see your Truth. The point is to remain open, to be able to consider what they say without getting worked up about it. THEN you can continue the discussion, and either correct misconceptions or misunderstanding, OR perhaps agree to disagree.

Ultimately, whether the Truth acts as a surgery, depends on the person receiving that Truth. If we hear something disturbing from someone we know cares about us and has no ill intentions, we might benefit greatly by taking it into consideration and doing the hard work of addressing whatever it is. We have to engage the process for healing to occur.

Only I can initiate healing for myself. Others can provide support and feedback, but they cannot heal me.

We can each cultivate relationships in our lives that are Truthful. Have you ever asked a person you trust, to give you their honest take on something you are having a hard time with? Are you able to openly listen to their feedback?

Do you have a friend who knows all about your struggles? Do they listen? Do they feel comfortable giving you feedback? Do you do the same for them?

Having this kind of relationship with someone takes practice. If you cannot take criticism or negative feedback without reacting or getting defensive, it will be impossible to have a truly intimate, close relationship with the other person. Your relationship will remain superficial and limited.

If I want to have honest relationships with others, then I have to make sure that I am open to listening, even when I might not agree with or like what the other person is saying. I also have to be willing to be truthful, even when the conversation might be uncomfortable.

In my experience, I am finding more and more people who are working on having these kinds of relationships with others. It doesn’t necessarily feel “natural.” It can feel very vulnerable. Your attempts can fall flat on their collective faces. It’s a very different way of being, and not everybody is ready for it. We will still have misunderstandings, but we can practice working through them.

If you get nothing else out of this, I hope you pay more attention to when we all are Truthful with each other and when we are not. Then make your own choices — consciously. And if you have healing to do? Seek out people who care, who will be real with you, even if that’s uncomfortable to do.



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I Hate Them

Apparently, it’s ok to hate our enemies. At least that’s what I’m getting from reading a lot of the commentary online.

As long as we can agree that “they” are the bad guys, we can all agree that we hate them. It’s pretty simple, actually.

It doesn’t matter if we did the exact same things that we are hating on right now. “We” are the good guys, and we know that in our hearts, so we were justified in our behavior.  “We” were wronged. “We” were threatened. Our way of life was at stake.

We are naturally attached to being “right.” After all, who would knowingly be “wrong”? Only the bad guys are “wrong.” And we are the good guys.

Tell me, do good guys ever make mistakes? Do good guys ever get out of control?  Do good guys know how to apologize when they do?

Is everybody on “my side” always a good guy?

If we are unable to step back and take an unbiased view of both sides (of ANYTHING) we will never move beyond this. And by this, I mean the US vs. THEM mentality that is so pervasive.

The only way to solve the problem of hatred, is to start by ABANDONING the US vs THEM mindset.


Romans 12:14-21 Wish only good for those who treat you badly. Ask God to bless them, not curse them. When others are happy, you should be happy with them. And when others are sad, you should be sad too. Live together in peace with each other. Don’t be proud, but be willing to be friends with people who are not important to others. Don’t think of yourself as smarter than everyone else. If someone does you wrong, don’t try to pay them back by hurting them. Try to do what everyone thinks is right. Do the best you can to live in peace with everyone. My friends, don’t try to punish anyone who does wrong to you. Wait for God to punish them with his anger. In the Scriptures the Lord says, “I am the one who punishes; I will pay people back.” But you should do this: “If you have enemies who are hungry, give them something to eat. If you have enemies who are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this you will make them feel ashamed.” Don’t let evil defeat you, but defeat evil by doing good.

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Shots Fired


The breaking news this morning was that shots were fired at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, where Republican members of Congress were practicing for tomorrow’s upcoming bipartisan game. The Majority Whip, Steve Scalise, was hit. From what they are reporting, it seems that he will be ok. We don’t yet know the status of the others who were shot.

I happened to be watching the morning news (which I NEVER do) and heard the first mention of the incident. I googled, read some tweets, and listened as the story began to be told.

And it just plain makes me sad.

This is a high profile situation. But it is no different than any other senseless shooting. There are so many questions.

We can focus on the who-what-when.

  • Who is the shooter? (Middle-aged white male, wearing running clothes, dark hair)
  • What kind of weapon? (Rifle, per eye witness reports. Semi-automatic, based on reports of rapid fire. Rand Paul speculated about the type of rifle, but I am not up on my rifle names, so I googled to see if I would recognize the one he mentioned. I had no idea how many types of automatic weapons there are. Wow.)
  • Did he plan this? (Well, obviously. You don’t just go for a jog carrying your semi-automatic rifle and impulsively shoot at people at a morning baseball practice.)
  • How long did it take the Alexandria police to get there? (Chief says three minutes btw.)

There is also the question of WHY?  Why would someone do such a thing?

The question of why can lead us in a couple of directions.

We can ask all of these questions with the intent of figuring out who or what we can blame for this situation, OR we can ask questions with the intent of learning more so that we can figure out what we might do differently to prevent these kinds of tragedies from happening.

There will be plenty of finger-pointing, and I have no interest in participating in that game. What I will say, is that I notice that no real solutions are reached using that approach. It’s a waste of time.

This is not a simple problem. It’s not as easy as simply passing more gun control laws. That may be a valid part of the solution, but we need to dig into the problem if we really want to fix it.

We desperately need to be able to examine, discuss, hash out, consider, and ponder the many aspects of our problems with gun violence (and really all violence) to be able to “solve” these problems. We need to get at the roots, understand the seeds that sprout and grow into the kind of logic and hatred that results in a person who acts in this way.

We need to develop a skill set that allows us to observe the dynamics of violent behavior, with an open mind and with empathy, so that we can clearly see what’s going on.

Unfortunately, this approach is in stark contrast to the culture of much of our leadership and our culture.

If we are going to solve this, we MUST abandon the “us vs. them” mentality.

As I listened to the accounts of those who were on that field, watching their friends get hit or run to cover, I could imagine how terrifying it must have been, how upsetting to see your friend down, bleeding, and attempting to crawl to safety. Just awful.

I am sure that any human being in that situation has those same emotions. So why do we become numb to the stream of violence that occurs in our cities? We don’t really seem to care, or care enough to address the problem when it doesn’t affect “us.” Again, it’s not “us vs. them.” It’s about ALL of humanity.

Too many people embrace the idea that Power, and then More Power, is the way to get what they want. Violence, intimidation, getting revenge, winning a fight, or whatever method needed to “beat the enemy” might get you what you want right now, but that won’t be the end of it.

Is this really the approach we want? Is this how we want to live our lives?

Isn’t it time we stop all the fighting and figure this out?


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Happy Moments

Do you notice how some people always seem to be Happy and others always seem to be unHappy? And do you notice how this doesn’t necessarily depend on their life circumstances? Do you pay attention to when you feel Happy and when you feel unHappy?

We talk about Happiness a lot. It’s what we say we want for our family, our children, our friends, and for ourselves. What do you do to attain Happiness? What “makes” you Happy? Do you want to help other people to be Happy? Do you want other people to think you are Happy?

Do you know anybody who puts on a Happy face in public, but then is very grouchy and seemingly unHappy in private? Are you consistently Happy or unHappy, or does it depend upon your circumstances?

We all understand Happy Moments. When things are going right, we feel Happy. Happy Moments include:

  • You have a success, and gain recognition or praise – you are acknowledged as “good” by others.
  • You achieve something and feel satisfaction.
  • You do something you enjoy, which makes you feel good.
  • You are shown love by another’s words or deeds, and you feel worthy.
  • You see something beautiful, whether a situation or a scene – a beautiful sunset, a generous act, a situation where everything works out for the best, you hear music you love, you experience wonder at something.
  • Someone else, perhaps someone you love, experiences a Happy Moment and you are Happy for them.

The list could go on, but we are all familiar with situations that make us Happy. And we are familiar with the opposite as well — take any number of opposite situations, which might make us feel sad, angry, or some other form of “unHappy.”

One way to think about having a Happy Life or having Happiness, is to fill your life with Happy Moments, or at least more Happy Moments than Sad Moments. It seems to me that most people don’t really think about this consciously, but follow this method of pursuing Happiness.

You can work hard to maximize your Happy Moments. You can be nice to people, get good grades, show up on time, work hard, learn a lot and apply what you know, get a good job, marry a nice, attractive person, teach your kids how to behave, choose a good neighborhood to live in, get some more credentials and secure a better job, expand your social network, do volunteer work at church, network with successful businesspeople, earn a reputation as an expert, share your knowledge…..get the idea? This approach will maximize your chances of having lots of Happy Moments……which will make you Happy, right?

Well……what if after all that hard work, you get skipped over for the promotion? What if you don’t get in to the college of your choice? What if the economy tanks? What if your business partner dies suddenly in an accident? What if you or a loved one gets seriously sick? What if your child has a learning disability or autism or just a contrary personality? What if your spouse and you have conflicts? What if you realize, after 20 years, that you really don’t like the type of work you chose?

We can plan for a perfect life that will provide Happiness, but we cannot predict or control how life will actually unfold. We all know people who did everything “right” but then “got screwed”…..and we all know people who seem to be charmed, who bounce back from seemingly impossible circumstances.

When we experience Happy Moments, we experience good feelings. Feelings like joy, wonder, satisfaction and gratitude. Positive feelings “make us” feel Happy. But is “feeling” Happy the same as “being” Happy?

We are so vested in the Happy Moments mindset that we don’t think about it, and we don’t think that there might be an alternative approach to achieving Happiness.

Happy Moments are not the same as what I want to call Core Happiness. Those people who seem to be Happy no matter what life throws them, have Core Happiness. Is that state of “being” about always feeling positive? I would argue that the State of Being Happy is not about feelings, but about being balanced, relaxed and comfortable.

Core Happiness is an internal state of being that is not dependent on external circumstances. Of course, every person will still have Happy Moments and Sad Moments, but a person with a high level of Core Happiness will not depend on these Moments to define their sense of well-being. It’s a whole different thing.

An individual who is comfortable with who they are, who feels worthy, secure, confident, open, eager and optimistic is in a state of peace, relaxation, comfort, and satisfaction. When we achieve (or get close to) a natural state of balance we are most likely to consider ourselves “Happy” in our core.

People who depend on Happy Moments to be Happy will do everything they can to create Happy Moments and to avoid Sad Moments. They will want others to behave in ways that create Happy Moments for them. They will seek out situations that provide Happy Moments. Without having an internal balance, this method of pursuing Happiness can become exhausting. And because the source of Happy Moments is external, this quest is also exhausting for those others who are expected to participate in creating those Happy Moments.

What kinds of Happy Moments do you depend on? What “makes” you feel Happy, and what situations do you try to create, over and over, that give you positive feelings? Can you see any patterns in your life? Despite many Happy Moments, do you still feel that you are unHappy?

Do you feel balanced? Do you consider yourself resilient and able to bounce back from Sad Moments? Do Sad Moments define you?

Are you addicted to Happy Moments? Do certain kinds of Happy Moments result in you feeling unbalanced?

Observe yourself and figure out how you are searching for Happiness. Is your level of Happiness dependent on Happy Moments? Who else do you depend on to behave or to do things that you think you “need” to be Happy? What level of certainty do you need from others in order to feel Happy? If your external circumstances changed, would you still be Happy?

We each get to choose how to pursue Happiness. For those who focus on Happy Moments, there may come a time where it becomes just too frustrating to never feel like there are enough, and to never feel a sense of satisfaction with life as it is. It may be that then a person shifts focus to a different definition of Happiness, an internal state of Balance.

Perhaps, this is the true source of the Happiness we really want.


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The Way my Life Goes These Days

Just a little story that illustrates the every-day way my life unfolds.

While all the angst and chaos of pre-election insanity swirls around, I’m busy working on my little 2br house renovation.  Yesterday I was hanging a little drywall in the corner of the kitchen-to-be, and I ran out of drywall screws.

Larry the plumber was there.  I asked him if he needed anything from Home Depot.

“Why are you going there?” he says.  “Why not go to Key?”

Well, I don’t know.  I hadn’t thought about it.  But Key Supply is a local place, I guess not any further away, so yeah, sure, I’ll go there.

So I head out.  On the way I go by the house and notice one dog is outside.  I stop and check in to make sure everything is ok there.  Keep going.  Remember I should check the mailbox at Fourth Street.  Talk to Sharra, she writes me a check.  Ok, good.

This is really taking a long time, just to get a box of drywall screws.  I am noticing that “The Universe” or “God”, whatever term you like to use, seems to be steering me in a certain direction.  I definitely have this sense of it, and I am also being slowed down.  I am behind a car going very slow.  I also notice that I am low on gas, and I should stop at Sal’s and fill up.  But really, I should get back and finish that drywall!  So I skip the gas for now.

I get to Key, and grab a box of screws off the shelf.  Terry is there, and Terry is a talker.  He’s also a really nice guy.  So we chat.  For a while.  About all kinds of stuff.  In the back of my mind, I am still wondering what my purpose is for being here at Key, it really did feel like there was a reason.  And you never know, maybe just the chat was “meant to be” or maybe someone needed a smile that day and I am not even aware of whatever small interaction was supposed to happen.  Whatever.  I’m just going with it.

BUT THEN, in walks Petey.  I instantly recognize this person, but it takes me a minute to be sure of who it is, because it is unexpected.  He looks right at me and says, “Megan” or “Meggy” or some version of my name.  I give him a big hug.  (His real name is Jesús, if I remember correctly, and he speaks with an accent.  FYI “Meg” does not translate well into Spanish.)

You see, I am very fond of Petey.  He’s a super sweet guy.  He used to be part of  Andy’s crew, one of the contractors I use.  We spent a lot of time together in the summer of 2007, and then they worked on my kitchen in 2010.  He no longer works for him, so I haven’t seen Petey since then.

So, “why” did God or The Universe set this up?  Who knows.  It sure made me happy to see him.  I don’t necessarily think the reason has to be earth-shattering.  But I do know that if I am “in tune” with the subtle pushes and pulls that are there, and I allow myself to follow along, that these things happen.

And who knows?  Maybe he needed a hug.  Maybe … a lot of reasons, and I will never know. To me it doesn’t matter — it’s just a lot more fun to live life this way. 🙂





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Only We can Solve our Own Problems

Outrage and anger are normal reactions when we see injustice. Outrage and anger might light a fire under our butts and get us moving.

BUT solutions don’t come from outrage and anger. SOLUTIONS come from working together and facing our problems.

Today I am thinking about the overwhelming problems we seem to have, and how solving them seems impossible. So here’s what I am thinking:

We each have to solve our own problems. No one else can solve them for us. And we need to understand that we can’t solve the problems of others, either.

This doesn’t mean we don’t need to work together, however. We just need to understand which roles we need to play when working on solutions.

Let’s say I have a problem. For a real solution, I have to own my problem. I have to think about it and I have to take action. If someone else comes along and “saves” me, I don’t own the solution and I probably don’t learn any lessons either. If I do take action, and try to figure out my own problem, THEN hopefully I turn to others for information, feedback, their perspective, and maybe even some advice. I might realize that advice from others who have faced a similar problem might prove to be the most valuable. But I have to seek out the advice, and then figure out what to do with it. No one else can just tell me what to do.

Let’s just say I live through my situation and I figure out how to solve my problem. I may decide that, with my experience, I now know what’s best. I may start telling other people what to do. I may get annoyed at others who don’t heed my warnings. I didn’t want other people telling me what to do when I was in the middle of it, but now I am an expert and others should listen to me.

Sound familiar?

It’s one thing when you have a skill or expertise in a job. That’s not what I’m talking about. I am talking about having a personal challenge or problem that needs to be worked through. OK? And it’s one thing to give unsolicited advice, quite another to be a resource and share your expertise when asked.

With a personal challenge, the kind of situation where we (hopefully) grow as an individual and become wiser, no one can do the work for you.

We can’t do someone elses work, but we CAN be supportive. We can listen. We can offer feedback – using reflective listening, for example. We can offer resources or take care of logistics for a friend who is overwhelmed or struggling to handle it all.  There are lots of ways to offer support without trying to take control.

We don’t tend to think this way. We like to have opinions about what other people should do, while ignoring the planks in our own eyes.

This same concept applies for groups of people as well as individuals.

I observe what’s going on in the world today, and here is what I am thinking about:

Promoting awareness of problems is important. That’s a separate issue. There are people and organizations that play this role, and we need to be aware of a problem before we can solve it. True.

But come on, we KNOW we have a problem with police brutality. Maybe the Police Officers need to take the lead on solving that problem.

We KNOW we have a problem with systemic racism. Maybe white people need to take the lead in addressing it.

We clearly have a problem with gun violence. Maybe gun owners and the NRA need to step up and propose some solutions.

Maybe the black community needs to take the lead in addressing social issues and violence in the black community.

Maybe the Christian community needs to address hypocrisy in the Christian community.

Maybe men need to take the lead in addressing rape culture and equal opportunities for women.

Maybe the straight community needs to be leading the charge in promoting equal rights.

Don’t you dare say “Yeah, that’s right!”

about one of the above communities if it is not your own.

If you do, you are missing the entire point.


I realize this is already happening in some cases. And I realize this seems impossible in a lot of cases. I didn’t even try to list examples from Corporate America.

Part of the issue is, in an environment where everybody is looking for someone to blame,  we are far less likely to admit that we have a problem to begin with. But admitting to our own problems is VITAL if we are ever going to solve them.

This is why it is so important to stop blaming and attacking each other.

People NEED to feel it is SAFE to admit to a problem,

or else they will not own it.

What if, on an individual level, we started to focus on solving our own problems AND on being supportive, in whatever way we could, to others who could then feel empowered to solve their own problems?

The endless cycle of blame we have going, is not ever, ever, ever going to solve anything.

So observe yourself. See how often you jump into The Blame Game. See how often you tell other people how to solve their problems. Are you outraged about what other people are doing? Notice if you are taking care of your own issues—or are you ignoring them while you spend time ranting? Are you part of a group that could use some improvement?

I’m not saying all ranting is bad.  There is a time and a place.  We sometimes need to vent and express ourselves.  But some people stop at the rant, and don’t ever get to the part about working on the problem.

When you hear others complain about an issue, do you attempt to understand, or do you get defensive? Do you listen? Do you consider how you would feel in their shoes? Do you stand up for someone if you see they are mistreated, or are you just glad it’s not you?

We each need to own our own problems, and the problems of the groups to which we belong.  What if we supported and celebrated those who step up and own our problems?  What if we respected those who Speak Up?


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Speaking Up doesn’t need to be about getting angry and outraged, you know.

Speaking up might be saying a kind word to someone you know is hurting.  Speaking up might just be quietly pointing out that there are unintended consequences.  Speaking up might be pointing out that there is a different way.  Speaking up might be encouraging someone to listen.  Speaking up might be as simple as saying that there might be a different way.

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Feel, Think, Say, Do

What we feel, what we think, what we say, and what we do are basic aspects of how we live life! Are we consistent with these four aspects or not?

It seems that, of course a person would be consistent, but think about it – if you observe yourself or other people, you can see plenty of instances where we are not consistent.

I would venture to say, that we are happiest when we are consistent, and not very happy or comfortable when we are not.

So why wouldn’t we always be consistent?

Let’s first talk about our feelings. We feel what we feel, but we have been taught that we “should” feel certain ways in certain instances. We have been told that our feelings are “wrong.” But this is not the way we are built. What we feel just is and so if our feelings are deemed acceptable, that’s great, but if we have feelings that are wrong or unacceptable, we feel shame and guilt, we conclude we must be a bad person or must have something wrong with us. So instead of feeling our feelings freely, we develop filters and get ourselves all mixed up about our emotions.

You don’t really have a choice about what you feel. Feelings and emotion just happen. You can pretend you didn’t feel something, but suppressing your feelings causes all kinds of problems. So what IF that feeling you have is inappropriate?

Well, that’s something to think about. This is what your brain is for. You know how you feel, you know your own situation, you can think through the implications of what you decide to say or do.

We always have a better outcome when we think things through. Thinking is where we pass judgment and apply all those rules where society tells us how we should be. Our brain also allows us to notice things, like how we feel, and it processes and ponders all the implications of how we feel, whether how we feel is acceptable, if and what we should say about it, and if and what we should do about it.

Because you DO have a choice about what you say and what you do. And THIS is where we can apply the ideas of what is appropriate and what is not.

Personally, I think we would all get along so much better, and we would all understand each other better, if we were able to apply this perspective. Because owning our feelings, and being able to be HONEST about our feelings, will help us to understand each other. If we insist on making the feelings of others “wrong” we will continue the judgment and resulting arguments, and never get anywhere.

So, pay attention to situations, and notice when we are not allowing someone to express their feelings, even if we think they are inappropriate. Instead, focus on what that person is saying or, more importantly, DOING and whether what they DO is appropriate or not.

How do we decide if someone’s actions are appropriate or not?

This is not always simple. But it has to do with whether they are imposing their will on another in a way that causes harm. This is not simple, because we don’t all feel or want the same things, so there are opposing forces at work.

But there are some straightforward examples.

And here’s a simple, but really difficult example that illustrates this exactly. Challenge yourself to take in this example without judgment, notice how you are judging feelings, then notice the thinking/processing, and notice the ABSENCE of inappropriate or harmful behavior.

Remember, I said this is a DIFFICULT one:

Watch this video at this link

Notice how Todd says, “no matter what we say or do, people are going to hate us anyway.”

Todd says he has never abused a child and never will. He totally owns his feelings, and he took a lot of time to think this through and process what those feelings mean, to him, to others, and to society. And he CHOOSES to communicate in an honest way, and CHOOSES to act in a way that will do no harm.

Yet we have a very difficult time knowing what to do with someone like Todd, because we consider his feelings to be bad. He knows that.  Is he a BAD person?

What you can say about Todd is that he is HONEST.  Think about this:  would you rather he hid his feelings, so you didn’t have to think about them?  Would you then think he was a “good” person since he has done nothing wrong?

Geez, if Todd can do this in his situation, can’t we all learn to embrace our feelings and work through them? Can’t we learn to allow others to do the same?

What if Todd’s situation is a lesson that each of us could embrace, which would help us all to be more real, more honest, and more caring about others?

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