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Note: In this week's podcast, I didn't add the tools for next week so you'll have to read them below at the end of the blog post.
I forgot. But I'm still a badass ;-)
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Last week's tools:
I hope you had a chance to apply the tools last week. I managed the first one and kept my nerve!
I feel nudged just a tiny bit more towards being badass.
This week, I noticed that, when it comes to badasserie, I’m a cross between my dog Annabelle and my other dog, Kiki.
Annabelle is six-and-a-half-pound white-haired Maltese. She is a tough dog. She’s brawny! We have a dog door. When she wants to go outside, she barrels through it so hard that I can hear the bang of the vinyl flap from the living room.
Kiki, our six-and-a-half-pound white poodle, in contrast, stretches out her paw tentatively to push the vinyl door open, then backs away as if the flap were trying to attacked her with its swinging motion. Eventually, as scary as it is, she has to slip through. It takes multiple tries before she finally makes it. On rare occasions, trying to come back in, it takes her so long to get here courage up, she gets wet from standing in the rain and I have to towel her dry.
This week, I presented two Wise Peer Communication workshops. One for Gender Diversity, designed for parents at Seattle Children’s Hospital, the other designed for staff at Seattle Counseling Service. The days leading up to the events I was like Annabelle, barreling through the cold that had been dogging me for the past two weeks, to hone and practice the PowerPoint presentations
Then came Sunday, the day of the first presentation, and I felt more like Kiki. I worried about whether some of the parents related to the program. In the end, it was well-received and praised. Now, I felt like Annabelle again. Tuesday, the day of my second presentation, I was like Kiki again. I started out speaking too softly—my version of rearing back from the vinyl flap. But soon enough, I found my footing and stepped through to the other side. Again, the workshop was well-received, and I felt robust and confident like Annabelle. Then, going over it all in my head afterwards, I stood in a space of second-guessing like Kiki standing outside, getting wet in the rain.
What made this time different from all the other times I’ve done things that challenge me is that I didn’t give in. I acknowledged that I worry like Kiki. But I also recognized that I have Annabelle’s toughness. I wrote the word “badass” on my hand and barreled through the proverbial door: Every time I wanted to cringe in self-criticism, I looked at that word written on my hand and I realized, oh! this is a matter of deciding who I am! A decision that I’ll be making over and over, just like Kiki has to decide over and over to brave the dog door.
I think we’re all like that—a little bit of Kiki and a little bit of Annabelle. And that’s a winning combination, because, let’s not forget, that, no matter how long it takes, Kiki always makes it through the door. And so will you and I.
This week’s work in bullets
It's the end of the first month, so I recommend taking a review of what you've practiced this the past four weeks. Where did you hit it hard, where could you be exercising your badass muscle more? Don't be the one in the gym who has big thighs and small calves. The reason is that the thigh muscles are bigger and, so, easier to build. The calves need much more attention to keep up. My "calves" are my incessant striving for getting it right instead of just getting it. My "thighs" are acting with bravado. I don't need to practice that.
At the beginning of the 2nd month, stay focused, keep showing up, keep working the program. If you haven't guessed it already, yep, I'm going back to the gym, so you'll hear that in my language. I'll try not to overdo it. Be as tough as feels right, be as sweet as feels right. You have no one to answer to, you badass! :)
This coming week’s work in bullets:
Thank you so much for reading. Have a wonderful beginning of February. I love you. I hold you as whole and wise, and because I'm so inclined, as divine. Perfect as you are, right now, and as you are not, right now.
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Last Week’s Tools
I hope you had a chance to apply theses tools. I have and can report that they work: I feel more positive and less triggered, and just a smidge more badass.
True story from last week: It’s midnight. I finally slip under the yellow comforter. Womb-like, I’m enveloped by the warmth generated by the heated mattress cover I turned on earlier. Feels like a sanctuary. Suddenly, little I-want-my-mommy kind of half-sobs escape my throat. I think, oh man, learning to be a badass is hard. It’s scary. I try to snuggle in as deeply as possible and visualize gold stars. My IBF whispers, "You are awesome."
Have you been scared? Challenged? Are your efforts flagging? Or are you still at it with undiminished enthusiasm? Have you, like me, been wondering how on earth you’re going to last for twelve months? I believe, in time, answers will come.
I keep thinking of quitting. I’ve been hoping this gets easier. Of course it does. Just not quite yet! The learning curve, by its very definition, is only steep at the beginning. I trust we're right where we need to be. The doubts are OK. For example, I’ve been asking myself, what if, after all this effort, I don’t want this? What if being a badass comes with unintended consequences?
Well, of course it does! Everything comes with unintended consequences. Otherwise, life would be nothing more than a chess game of which the outcome can be calculated.
It occurs to me that part of being a badass is to allow yourself to assume that things will work out, unintended consequences notwithstanding. So, the idea is to keep your nerve. Which brings us to this week's
Tool 1: Keep your nerve and practice assuming things will work out (mantra: things will probably work out).
Come to think of it, today I saw one such unintended consequence.
I was at the store this morning. Without realizing at first what was happening, I sized up the man who stood in line at the pharmacy counter. How did his strength match up to mine? Would I be able to take him? No way. Male bodies have larger muscles. A mini movie unspooled in my mind in which we engaged in hand-to-hand combat (he decimated me). All this happened in less time than it took to walk past him. I remember reading somewhere that men often have such thoughts. Maybe these thoughts are a result of my gender journey on which I am allowing my internal masculinity to surface. But maybe it is also part of the process of becoming a badass.
I want to be both, badass and sweetheart. Is it possible? It seems, that in the third week of practicing becoming a badass, there is a sense of invulnerability building.
For this coming week, one of my goals is to practice disrupting invulnerability. Which brings us to this week's
Tool 2: When you notice insensitivity, indifference or coldness in yourself, or judgment of others, take a moment to breathe and call upon soulful chivalrousness.
I’ve been making to-do lists for decades. As a matter of course, I put much more on them each day than is possible to accomplish because I want to capture everything that needs to get done, not only what needs to get done today. This week, I’ve noticed that every night, I am left with the sense that today, again, I didn’t do enough—likely from the years of making unrealistic “everything lists.” Steven reminds me, "Gold stars. Lots of gold stars!" These gold stars are replacing the habitual thought of 'I didn’t get enough done.'
Does not feeling you're enough stand in the way of your own badasserie?
On the other hand, has it occurred to you this week that you’re not becoming a badass but claiming the inner badass that’s already there? That might very well be the case—it’s an exciting thought.
Pains In The Neck
While in badass training, what would you do if you had to deal with someone with a difficult personality? Would you get tough on them? Would it feel like they're undermining the process? Or would you see it as a practice opportunity? The latter is how I approached it this week. Thankfully, I remembered to use the tools from last week:
Those questions worked brilliantly! They kept me in my body, focused on what I wanted to accomplish (instead of being sidetracked by the other person’s behavioral issues), and from totally getting triggered.
I was also helped by the decision not to make assumptions—another tool from last week—about why they acted as they did. Thoughts like, ‘This is who they are,’ can be replaced by questions, such as, 'What if they’re not aware? Maybe they don’t have good impulse control?' Not as an excuse for that person's ill behaviour, but to keep from making assumptions that would only fuel negative feelings.
And I asked my IBF, "How would a badass handle this?" Which brings us to this week's
Tool Three: How would a badass handle this?
Interestingly, my IBF suggested responding authentically. The IBF seems to have cryptic answers. Hahaha! In my case, focusing on being badass about this (instead of on how rude they're being), also contributed mightily to being less triggered! Basically, I felt a badass wouldn’t let shit get to them as much and that helped me shrug things off and stay better focused.
Well, these were my insights this past week. I hope they help you on your journey to claiming your inner badass!
This coming week’s work in bullets:
Thank you so much for reading. I love you. I see you as whole and wise, and because I am so inclined, as divine, perfect as you are, right now, and as you are not, right now.
*IBF: An aspect of the self that is being cultivated as an "internal best friend."
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Assumptions Feed Cynicism
Last Week's Tools
This week, I’ve been consistently showering myself with gold stars and turning to my Internal Best Friend for advice. They are invariable more generous and kinder that I act towards myself when I’m on autopilot. I’ve also been incorporating my insights, and I hope you have, too.
You can think of your IBF as an inner voice of kindness and compassion. Imagine them as the best friend of your wildest dreams. Put wonderful words into their mouth. If this doesn’t come easy, you could think of talking with your IBF as a kind of role-playing. You write the script. So make it the sweetest, kindest, most generous and helpful words you can conjure.
Here are the insights my practice yielded since last week:
1. Disrupt regrets!
I already knew that I have too many regrets. I saw in the last week how pointless they are because their cause by hindsight. Of course, I would know better after the fact. That’s why they’re called hindsight. I want to use them to learn from, not to anxiously wallow in regrets. They undermine me and make me weak.
2. Disrupt cynicism!
True story: On my way home, a car got stranded in the turn lane and stopped. As I passed by, I thought, ‘That’s not going to work! Nobody’s going to stop. You have to weave your way into traffic.’ I looked in the rearview mirror and, you guessed it, the very next car behind me slowed down, flashed their lights and let the car in. That slapped me in the face real good. A mundane moment that really highlighted my cynicism. Do you do that? Make cynical assumptions? Check it out this week.
What I really got this week is what it is that makes cynicism possible: Assumptions.
I mean, don’t we constantly assume, often the worst?
Now, am I conscious of my assumptions? Mostly, no. From where I stand, it just looks like calling it like it is. Well, I think there’s the rub. An assumption can be wrong like it was with that driver who waited for someone to let them in. Evolutionarily, making assumptions of what is safe and what isn’t is a good survival tactic. But beyond that, assumptions about people’s motives and intentions come with great liability.
For two reasons: 1) We overlay reality with our speculations which keeps us from actually being present in the moment and seeing what’s really there. And 2) because we are inherently biased, our speculations are distorted by those biases. Very quickly, rather than responding to the people we encounter in a fresh and unique way, as called for by actual reality, we respond in ways that are patterned by feedback loops.
For a while, on my gender journey, I got tired of doing so much emotional labor and stopped smiling. Life felt a lot cloudier because no one was smiling at me, either. Because I looked unfriendly or because they didn’t want to make the effort? I don’t know. But I do know, unless we encounter the moment with a fresh response, borne from being consciously present, there is no chance of stepping out of a feedback loop.
At the beginning of the paragraph, I answered the question if I am conscious of being assessing with "no." And that is the point of entry for the powerful shift that occurred this week. Last week’s insight was to worry less. To worry less, I had to assume less. When I assumed less, I had less cause to be cynical.
Friends, I can’t say what a difference that made. I’m lighter, less anxious, less frustrated and feel stronger. In other words, closer to being badass than I did last week.
If this resonates with you, I invite you to notice when you make assumptions.
3. Disrupt assumptions
Anytime you’re upset, check out if you’re making an assumption. Then, instead of staying on the emotional merry-go-round, as yourself a few powerful questions that will help you get present:
What is happening right now?
What are the sounds?
What is being said (if anything)?'
How do I feel in my body?
What do I need right now?
How do I want to act or respond?
What would help me get in touch with my power?
Next, act in accordance with what comes to you as a result of these questions. Trust yourself. If you’re not sure, ask ‘How can my IBF help me with that right now?’ And remember to shower yourself with gold stars.
MOST IMPORTANT!!! Be ever so gentle with yourself. Be kind with yourself. Treat yourself with the loving care you would give to a puppy, a kitten, a bunny, or a newborn baby. You’re becoming a newborn—a newborn badass ;-D.
As to “badass:” Do you like the term? Do you want something a little different? If so, change the term! To winner. Or savior, activist, healer, sweetheart. Maybe powerhouse. Whatever would describe the you who would love the life you want to live!
This week’s work in bullets
Hey, remember when I mentioned last week that I had something to share? Here it is: To make the Badass Challenge more concrete for myself, I ordered a, honest-to-God trophy. The one you see in the picture at the top. It's in Steven's work space, up on a very high shelf waiting for me. I can see it up there, but I can't touch it. Because of that, I know it's not yet mine. My goal this year is to earn it so that it can move from Steven's space to an honored place in my work space. We'll take pictures together that day!
That's it for this week. Thank you so much for reading. Have a wonderful week. I love you. And remember, you are whole and wise, and if so inclined, divine. Perfect as you are, right now, and as you are not, right now.
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What is an Internal Best Friend or IBF?
Last week's tools for becoming a badass were:
To get oriented, let's revisit the concept of a badass. As of now, I define a badass as someone who is willing and able to fully step into their power to do and be what is in their heart of hearts. For me, that is empowering people to help heal the separation in the world. For you, this may be learning a second language, opening a yoga studio, protecting the earth, advancing social justice, climbing a mountain, or creating a relationship that soars. Whatever it is, it’s something you want, and you know it will take some serious badasserie to make it happen.
For that purpose, each week, I develop and practice tools and use them daily.
I invite you to do this challenge along with me and to adjust anything, such as objectives, tools, and definitions, to allow your process to be true to you so that you can be your authentic self.
I look forward to hearing from you what your experiences are, either in the comments, on Facebook, or you can shoot me an email.
For Week 1, I wanted to develop an aspect of myself that I call the Internal Best friend, or IBF. I used two tools in an evening ritual before I drifted off to sleep.
Firstly, I mentally scanned my day and then visualized rewarding myself with 5 gold stars or a gold trophy. Secondly, I committed to asking myself 'How would my IBF help me with that?' at any time, day or night, if I ran into a problem with attitude, fear, frustration, and so on.
Here is a summary of what happened this past week, Week 1.
I right away run into problems. Night 1, I brows on my phone and completely space the exercise, even with the sticky note reminder on my pillow. The next two nights, I manage to remember but there is tremendous resistance in me. I’m unable to visualize anything! In scanning the day, I can’t find anything star-worthy. Asking, ‘What would my IBF do?’ is the only saving grace. Seems, my IBF (remember: an aspect of my personality I am developing) is very calming and kind. And much more level-headed than me.
Day three, I wake up in a rotten mood and seriously question if this works! Then it occurs to me, hey (!), you might be going through the same thing! I should mention that I feel like quitting instead of ignoring that that just happen!
So, in case you’re about to quit, you’re not a bad person, all is not lost, and this is obviously just par for the course. Here’s something that helped me and may help you, too: I reminded myself that it takes a minimum 21 days to build a neural network (a 30-day practice gives you a better chance at establishing one, and 12 months of practicing a new skill will change your life forever). Building a baby neural network and then enlarging it through repetition is what actually happens when we say “building a habit.”
I also noticed that I was going into this with serious overconfidence. When it didn’t work right away to make me feel better and badassish, I was disappointed. I expected that the 21 days were just going to be about reinforcing what works from day one. I see that I have more to overcome than I thought—there is a lot more self-criticism and self-aggression in my process of digesting and processing my daily life than I’d noticed. This is interesting.
Day 2, I also realize that the 5-star-process has gone off the rails. Instead of building myself up—the point of this process—I’m scanning my day for star-worthiness. But clearly, it’s about becoming conscious that I, that we all are, worthy because we are worthy. We are privileged to be alive. We are badasses-in-waiting who are done waiting.
Thankfully, I kept at it (knowing I promised another installment helped) and it got easier with every successive day until I wasn’t even waiting till evening to give out gold stars and get advice from my IBF.
If you’re not at that stage yet, before you criticize yourself, give yourself a handful of stars and ask your IBF how they can help you right now. We’re doing this together. I can see it’s working. So, if you’re a little lost, you’ll be found. If you get really stuck, reach out to me. Together, we’ll get you unstuck!
Let Me Know!
How'd it go with you star-giving? What happened when you asked 'How would my IBF help me with that?'
Dear friend, thank you for coming along with me. I love you. And remember, you're whole and wise, perfect as you are right now, and as you are not, right now. Blessings.
This week's work
Keep building your new neural network
Day-To-Day in Week 1
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This is a day-by-day account. Listen to it or read it if you think it might help you know what someone else experienced.
Night 1: When I see the sticky note I've put on my pillow, I remember to recall the day. But first a little browsing on my phone.
Day 2: While I browsed the internet, I forgot! Not happy!
Night 2: I'm a really good visualizer but no stars form before my inner eye. No trophies to hand to myself. Nothing except blackness. I finally resort to telling myself, 'OK, I'm handing myself five beautiful stars. OK, now I'm handing myself a shiny trophy!' Ugh! Fail! Fail! Fail! I have to laugh it's so bad. Things are going dreadfully! Rather than germinating a tiny seed of badass self-love, I feel dread and huge resistance.
Day 3: A rotten mood! As I lay there with my comforter up to my nose, a small, soft voice in my head pipes up, ‘How would my best friend help me with that that?' My body takes a deep breath of relief. Right, I’m not alone in this.
During the day, it occurs to me, 'Maybe this doesn't work!" Then, it occurs to me that you might be going through the same thing, so I had better fess up to it instead of keeping the failure to myself!
I remember it takes at least 21 days to build a neural network. But, of course, I’ve expected this approach to work immediately and the 21 days are just about reinforcing what already works. But maybe I’m uncovering that there is a lot more self-criticism and self aggression in my process of digesting and processing my daily life. This is interesting. I wonder if I'd quit if I hadn’t started a podcast. That motivates me to keep going. I don’t know if I will succeed. But I know I will keep at the goal of becoming a badass. In saying that, I realize I haven’t thought about it that way. I looked at the 5-star exercise as a way to make me feel better. Maybe I need to look at it in context. Can’t wait to do that tonight.
Night 3: I scan my day and immediately find things I've done badly, or not at all. Where are the "rewardable" things? Everything I turn over in my mind isn't it. Even the things I did right, I only did so-so right. It's awful how negatively I view myself. I'm only now realizing. But this sinking feeling is familiar. I suddenly realize that this is how I feel at the end of every day! Like I failed because I didn't accomplish what I set out to do. Wow! I knew I was putting myself under pressure. But like this? That's an unpleasant surprise, especially considering how much work I've done around self-love. I can't do the gold stars so I switch to asking, 'How would my best friend help me with that?' Oh. They're so sweet to me, reminding me that all my judgement is from the unfair advantage of hindsight. OK. I can work with that. Thank you, IBF.
Day 4: I notice that I'm going a little easier on myself this morning, and the world, too, for that matter. Isn't that how it always works?
I have a phone call scheduled that I've been scared of for a couple of weeks now. I've been handing my worries off to God the past two weeks but then take them right back again, gripping like a life ring what is, essentially, a rock. No wonder I've been sinking. I had a coaching session yesterday and am super prepared. The call goes fantastic. I want to remember tonight to give myself 5 stars!
Night 4: Yay! I have things to give myself gold stars for! Yippy! 10 stars for me! My visualization powers return. I can see myself on a pedestal, crowned with a 5-star crown, holding a gold trophy to fanfares. Trumpet blast--ta-ta-daaaa, ta-ta-da, ta-ta-daaaaa! This is awesome. It's working!
Uh-oh! Is it supposed to work this way? Something tells me I'm missing something. Like the whole point of this exercise!
The 5 stars aren't supposed to be for accomplishments! They're for nothing other than to acknowledge my fundamental worthiness. Wow, again! The scanning of the day isn't about finding where I've been worthy, it's about encompassing all I've been and done and rewarding all of it, and all of me! That's self-love. That's badasserie--to have the courage to love and reward every inch of myself and my life!
Day 5: Feeling remarkably good.
Night 5: Is it possible that the gold stars and developing the IBF aspect is already becoming second nature? Could it be happening that fast?
Day 6: Feeling groovy! I've added another thing: No regrets! You wouldn't believe how often I have a regret. That hindsight messing with me again..
Night 6: Gold stars like nobody's business! IBF right there beside me.
Day 7: I don’t recall what I gave myself five stars for – a good sign. I think it means my process wasn’t tied to performance. Instead of being merit-based, it was good-to-self-based (the kind of badasserie we're after).
You know, I’ve been sad. I've been angry about the White House and how the media is helping to perpetuate the sense of separation amongst the people by constantly click-bait-harping on it.
Holding a European passport, I've been dreaming of escape. But where to? Who welcomes a genderqueer 61, soon to be 62-year-old creative with spiritual and free-thinking leanings? America, that’s who.
Truth is, I have internalized more of that rage than I intended to, in my quest not to engage in spiritual bypassing.
After this week, I feel softly empowered.
I feel more clear-headed, too. I see that self-care begets self-championing, begets confidence, begets badasserie. I see now, becoming my IBF is healing the separation within myself. Of course.
As all wise individuals have said, ‘What we wish to create in the world must first exist within us.’ That said, let not the work stop there. This is only one step. Another step is to bring this whole-making and empowerment-know-how into the world!
Week 2 (starting tomorrow) was supposed to be about vulnerability and calming the inner critic with love. Pfft! I'm not at all ready to get into that. Maybe next week!
This is for week 2: The critic can't be shut down, but it can be soothed. That's where IBF comes in
Developing your IBF (Internal Best Friend) with vulnerability: Calming and healing the internal critic with love.
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The Badass Challenge -
Henry India Holden
I write about the divineness of life in its many forms. Writer, artist, spiritual director, life coach, tarotist. Nonbinary.