Most of my articles focus on women and the female perspective. Sadly, this ignores about 50% of the population. Men are also trying to find their way in our changing culture. I believe these changes are requiring men to develop more compassion. Yet, what is required of men to become more compassionate? For that answer, I turned to an article written by Kozo Hattori that was published in the Great Good, ‘What Makes a Compassionate Man?’

What does it take to foster compassion in men? To find out, Kozo Hattori, the author, interviewed scientific and spiritual experts.

I remember being a very compassionate child. While watching The Little House on the Prairie, I cried my eyes out when Laura couldn’t give Pa a Christmas gift. But 12 years of physical abuse and being forced to the confines of the “act-like-a-man box” wrung most of that compassion out of me by the time I reached adulthood.

Although I was what therapists call “high functioning,” my lack of compassion was like a cancer that poisoned my friendships, relationships, business affairs, and life. At the age of 46, I hit rock bottom. Unemployed and on the verge of divorce, I found myself slapping my four-year-old son’s head when he wouldn’t listen to me. As the survivor of abuse, I had promised myself that I would never lay a hand on my children, but here I was abusing my beloved son.

I knew I had to change. I started with empathy, which led me to compassion. I committed to a daily meditation practice, took the CCARE Cultivating Compassion class at Stanford University, and completed a ten-day silent meditation retreat. I read and researched everything I could find on compassion. I found that the more compassion I felt, the happier I became.

Convinced that I had found an essential ingredient to a happy and peaceful life, I started to interview scientific and spiritual experts on compassion, trying to find out what made a compassionate man. Interviewees included Dr. Dacher Keltner, co-founder of the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center; Dr. James Doty, founder and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University; Dr. Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness; Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence; and Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen Buddhist Monk nominated by Martin Luther King Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967.

From these interviews and research, I compiled a list of what makes a compassionate man.

1. A fundamental understanding of compassion
>Most events I attend that discuss compassion are predominantly attended by women. When I asked Thich Nhat Hanh how we could make compassion more attractive to men, he answered, “There must be a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of compassion because compassion is very powerful…Compassion protects us more than guns, bombs, and money.” Although many men in society see compassion and sympathy as feminine—which translates to a weakness in our patriarchal society—all of the compassionate men I interviewed view compassion as a strength.

Dr. Hanson noted how compassion makes one more courageous since compassion strengthens the heart—courage comes from the French word “Coeur,” which means heart. Dacher Keltner argues that Darwin believed in “survival of the kindest,” not the fittest. Dr. Ted Zeff, author of Raise an Emotionally Healthy Boy, believes that only compassionate men can save the planet. Zeff argues that “the time has come to break the outdated, rigid male code that insists that all men should be aggressive, thick-skinned, and unemotional”—an excellent description of the act-like-a-man box that I tried to live in.

The compassionate men I interviewed agree with the Dalai Lama when he said, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

2. Compassionate role models
All of the compassionate men seemed to have role models that supported their compassion instinct. Marc Brackett gives credit to his uncle, Marvin Maurer, who was a social studies teacher trying to instill emotional intelligence in his student before the term emotional intelligence was coined. Over 30 years after teaching in middle school, Maurer’s “Feeling Words Curriculum” acts as a key component of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence RULER program. Similarly, Marshall Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication, constantly mentions his compassionate uncle who cared for his dying grandmother.

A role model doesn’t necessarily have to be living, or even real. Chade-Meng Tan, author of Search Inside Yourself, cites Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of Gandhi as a role model for compassion. Dr. Rick Hanson posits Ender from the science fiction novel Ender’s Game as a compassionate role model. Certainly, Jesus and Buddha are obvious role models of compassion. The key is to treat them like role models.

Role models are not meant to be worshiped, deified, or prayed to. They are meant to be emulated. They pave the way for us to walk a similar path. Can we turn the other cheek and love our enemies like Jesus asked us? Can we transcend our ego and see all things as one, like the Buddha did?

In contrast are individuals who were not guided by positive role models. In his book From Wild Man to Wise Man, Franciscan Friar Richard Rohr describes what he calls “father hunger”: “Thousands and thousands of men, young and old…grew up without a good man’s love, without a father’s understanding and affirmation.” Rohr, who was a jail chaplain for 14 years, claims that “the only universal pattern I found with men and women in jail was that they did not have a good father.”

Scott Kriens, former CEO of Juniper Networks and founder/director of the 1440 Foundation, concurs: “The most powerful thing we can do for our children is be the example we can hope for.”

Stay tuned for Part Two of “What Makes a Compassionate Man” in next week’s ezine. In the meantime, if you are a man who is struggling to find out how to be more compassionate in a patriarchal society, please contact Joy a call for a 30-minute complimentary consultation. Email Joy or call 415-819-8769 today.

You can find the original article at https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_makes_a_compassionate_man

As a transformational coach I often hear about upsetting events and distressing circumstances in the lives of my clients.  Some of my friends wonder how I’m able to keep my distance emotionally when I hear these troubling stories. Through my own personal and spiritual journey, and my experience with 12-step programs, I was introduced to the concept which is called compassionate detachment.

Compassionate detachment is a mindset from which all of us can benefit when we exercise it in our relationships. It is a healthy way of relating to others which lets them know that you have a loving and caring concern for their predicament, while holding the belief that they have the inherent ability to deal with their own problems and become responsible for their own issues. Simultaneously you strive to maintain a sense of detachment about the outcome.

The important thing here is to stay detached so that you don’t step in and attempt to resolve their problem, their pain, or their issue for them.  This doesn’t mean, however, that you care any less for them. Nor does it mean that they, and the outcome, aren’t important to you.

Too often, many of us out of genuine concern will jump in and attempt to ‘rescue’ a friend. We might do this by giving advice, money, shelter, trying to ‘fix’ their feelings, or interceding for them in some way. Though our intentions may be good, in the long run we are doing our friend a disservice. By jumping in to rescue, we can end up disempowering the person we are trying to help. How? By not giving them the time, space, and self-confidence they need to develop their own ability to take care of themselves.

In addition, when we are in the rescue mode we tend to be working on our own agenda – on what we think might be best for our friend… which might not be what is best in the long run. Or we might like the feeling we get from being ‘needed.’ It might make us feel important. That is not necessarily helping our friend, however. In the end we could end up encouraging a dependency on our help rather than supporting their self-reliance and independence.

Rather than jumping to fix a problem, try listening compassionately without offering advice, or trying to fix the situation. Offer caring words of sympathy and be ‘present’ with them as they share what may be troubling them deeply. Many times a person just needs to be heard. Allowing someone to feel truly heard can be the greatest gift that you can give a friend.

So often my clients come to their own solutions just by having a safe space in which they can talk through an issue. In reality, we all have the answers within ourselves; we just need to be given the space, time, and belief in ourselves so that we can find them.


 

If you are struggling with some difficult challenges, give Joy a call for a 30-minute complimentary consultation to find out how she can help you. Call 415-819-8769 or email Joy today!

Most of us don’t like to make mistakes or to fail. Some of us hate failure so much that we don’t even try. We hold back because we don’t like the feelings that failure brings up.

In the past it was part of our karma to reflect, to feel bad, to regret our past mistakes and failures. This was so we could “hit bottom” and then have an epiphany that would inspire us to change. This is the reason monks and nuns had the knotted ropes so they could flagellate themselves and bring into their physical reality the pain of their failures, or the pain they thought they should feel.

In the past, our transformation into being a better person depended on owning our shadow traits, feeling bad about them, and making amends. This was a significant evolutionary insight for 5000 years ago. It served humanity well as we went through that period of advancement in consciousness.

Now we are moving into a new dimension of consciousness.

The time of repeatedly returning to the past for self-flagellation is DONE!!!

Now is a time to create — to bring forth a new era.

We each have our own special gifts. The world needs our gifts and talents. We are going through a challenging time in our global history. Environmentally, socially, politically our world has probably never been more challenged.

We can’t create if we keep cycling back into low vibrations where our thoughts sink into the abyss of our past mistakes, failures, embarrassments, etc.

They just suck us into feeling bad about ourselves.

When we succumb to the bad feelings that old painful memories bring up, our vibrations are lowered. We can’t ascend in consciousness, which is a higher vibrational state, if we are stuck in low vibrations. Make sense?

It’s time to deal with mistakes and failures in a new way.

Have compassion and forgiveness for yourself because you are on a very human journey. Only the tough and resilient choose to incarnate here on the earth-plane. Earth is considered a boot-camp for those souls who want to accelerate their ascension to higher consciousness.

Rather than flagellating yourself for mistakes and failures, or avoiding them altogether out of fear, start thanking the universe for each lesson you learn. Be compassionate and understanding of yourself and others. You, like everyone else, are doing the best you can on this journey to greater awareness. Staying in compassion, acceptance and love is how you raise your consciousness which will in turn help bring in the new era.

To help you do this I am providing a Daily Practice that will help you transform your failures into opportunities. I encourage you to commit to a 21-day practice. It will transform your life.

Daily Practice to Transform Failures into Opportunities

  1. Every morning, light a candle before your day starts and say: “I am a spark of the Divine. I light this candle to remind me that I become more enlightened from every challenge with which I am confronted. There are no problems or failures, only opportunities from which I can learn and grow.”
  2. Every night, light a candle and either write in your journal or say out loud three things that you are grateful for during your day.
  3. If you had a challenge, or if something didn’t work out as planned, then say or journal …
    • Today I experienced ________________. From this experience I learned _____________________.
    • Then affirm, “There are no problems or failures, only opportunities from which I can learn and grow.”
  4. Finally, feel compassion for yourself for this very human journey you are on. Give thanks for the opportunity to grow in awareness and understanding.

 

Last week I mentioned that at one time my attitude was so toxic that it literally polluted my life. Fortunately I had an epiphany that enabled me to realize that I was the source of my own misery. I was able to change my attitude and thus my life. I was still going through a difficult time, but my change in attitude helped me find solutions and improve my situation almost miraculously.If you are going through a tough time, remember that you always have a choice no matter what the circumstance may be. And the choice is this:You can either choose to let worry and upset fester at the expense of your life and well-being. Or, you can choose to see your situation in perspective, stay positive, and let go of anxiety and apprehension.

Sounds good, but how do you withstand those huge waves of negativity, let alone stay positive under the weight of an overwhelming challenge? Last week I gave 5 tips to help shift your attitude. You can read those HERE. Here are 5 more suggestions to consider:

6. Get enough sleep. During a stressful time, you might be tempted to skip on sleep, either voluntarily or not. But in reality, plenty of good quality sleep during a stressful time is even more important that the time you will gain by skimping. Adequate sleep will help you remain energetic, clear-headed and focused so that you’re able to figure out your next steps. When tired you’re more easily irritated and impatient, and you’re more likely to make mistakes or use poor judgment.

7. Limit bad news intake. Being constantly fed with gloomy news is enough to make even a dog panic for no reason. Today’s TV news is full of doom and gloom. Somedays it’s a virtual reality show of misadventures. Though it may seem entertaining, it can also be depressing and erode your positive attitude. Keep bad news, especially TV news, to a minimum as much as you can.

8. Join forces with others. When bad things happen, it is easy to become close-minded. But chances are, you are not alone during difficult times. There are likely to be many people who feel the same way as you do even though they may not voice this out loud. For instance, if you are worried about job security, recruit the help of your boss by discussing the implications of the crisis on your job and what you can best do to keep it. Your boss will appreciate your proactive approach and may even be glad that there is someone who shares the same sentiment. If you are unemployed, besides making trips to recruitment and government agencies to cast your employment net, connect with others who are in the same boat as you. Take this lull period to expand your network. The many talented friends that you will make during hard times could become lifetime friendships, and even turn into unexpected help in the future. And if you are an employer, this is a great time to boost your business with skillful and experienced people to help you ride out the crisis.

9. Get close to nature. Finnish researchers found that spending time in your favorite outdoor area and woodlands are more relaxing and restorative than time spent in your favorite urban settings or city parks. Taking a meditative walk through the woods is also a great way to clear the mind and regain mental balance.

10. Re-evaluate the meaning of your life. Tough times present hard but valuable lessons that can force us to re-evaluate the meanings we have been attaching to our lives. When facing adversity ask yourself:

• Are the meanings and goals I’ve been living by before this difficult time really worthwhile? 
• Through this challenge, what are the things that I’ve found to be really important? 
• And, what are those things that are not as important as what I once thought they were?

I’ve been through my share of difficult times. None of them were any fun! Yet, when I look back at those times I realize that they have been the source of some of my greatest insights and biggest lessons. I do believe it is possible to learn our lessons through ease and grace, but until that time, I find that maintaining a positive attitude helps me to find solutions more easily so I can more consistently live a joyful life.

I would like to leave you with these words from Viktor Frankl, the world-renowned psychiatrist who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning:

“Man is not free from conditions. But he is free to take a stand in regard to them. The conditions do not completely condition him. Within limits it is up to him whether or not he succumbs and surrenders to the conditions. He may as well rise above them and by so doing open up and enter the human dimension… Ultimately, man is not subject to the conditions that confront him; rather, these conditions are subject to his decision. Wittingly or unwittingly, he decides whether he will face up or give in, whether or not he will let himself be determined by the conditions.” 
— An excerpt from Psychotherapy and Existentialism

May your spirit grow stronger in the face of crisis!

If you are challenged with negative thinking, then contact Joy for a complimentary consultation to find out how your can reframe your thinking and live a more positive and happy life. Contact Joy at 415-819-8769 or email me today!

Last week I mentioned that at one time my attitude was so toxic that it literally polluted my life. Fortunately I had an epiphany that enabled me to realize that I was the source of my own misery. I was able to change my attitude and thus my life. I was still going through a difficult time, but my change in attitude helped me find solutions and improve my situation almost miraculously.

If you are going through a tough time, remember that you always have a choice no matter what the circumstance may be. And the choice is this:

You can either choose to let worry and upset fester at the expense of your life and well-being. Or, you can choose to see your situation in perspective, stay positive, and let go of anxiety and apprehension.

Sounds good, but how do you withstand those huge waves of negativity, let alone stay positive under the weight of an overwhelming challenge? Last week I gave 5 tips to help shift your attitude. You can read those HERE. Here are 5 more suggestions to consider:

6. Get enough sleep. During a stressful time, you might be tempted to skip on sleep, either voluntarily or not. But in reality, plenty of good quality sleep during a stressful time is even more important that the time you will gain by skimping. Adequate sleep will help you remain energetic, clear-headed and focused so that you’re able to figure out your next steps. When tired you’re more easily irritated and impatient, and you’re more likely to make mistakes or use poor judgment.

7. Limit bad news intake. Being constantly fed with gloomy news is enough to make even a dog panic for no reason. Today’s TV news is full of doom and gloom. Somedays it’s a virtual reality show of misadventures. Though it may seem entertaining, it can also be depressing and erode your positive attitude. Keep bad news, especially TV news, to a minimum as much as you can.

8. Join forces with others. When bad things happen, it is easy to become close-minded. But chances are, you are not alone during difficult times. There are likely to be many people who feel the same way as you do even though they may not voice this out loud. For instance, if you are worried about job security, recruit the help of your boss by discussing the implications of the crisis on your job and what you can best do to keep it. Your boss will appreciate your proactive approach and may even be glad that there is someone who shares the same sentiment. If you are unemployed, besides making trips to recruitment and government agencies to cast your employment net, connect with others who are in the same boat as you. Take this lull period to expand your network. The many talented friends that you will make during hard times could become lifetime friendships, and even turn into unexpected help in the future. And if you are an employer, this is a great time to boost your business with skillful and experienced people to help you ride out the crisis.

9. Get close to nature. Finnish researchers found that spending time in your favorite outdoor area and woodlands are more relaxing and restorative than time spent in your favorite urban settings or city parks. Taking a meditative walk through the woods is also a great way to clear the mind and regain mental balance.

10. Re-evaluate the meaning of your life. Tough times present hard but valuable lessons that can force us to re-evaluate the meanings we have been attaching to our lives. When facing adversity ask yourself:

• Are the meanings and goals I’ve been living by before this difficult time really worthwhile?
• Through this challenge, what are the things that I’ve found to be really important?
• And, what are those things that are not as important as what I once thought they were?

I’ve been through my share of difficult times. None of them were any fun! Yet, when I look back at those times I realize that they have been the source of some of my greatest insights and biggest lessons. I do believe it is possible to learn our lessons through ease and grace, but until that time, I find that maintaining a positive attitude helps me to find solutions more easily so I can more consistently live a joyful life.

I would like to leave you with these words from Viktor Frankl, the world-renowned psychiatrist who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning:

“Man is not free from conditions. But he is free to take a stand in regard to them. The conditions do not completely condition him. Within limits it is up to him whether or not he succumbs and surrenders to the conditions. He may as well rise above them and by so doing open up and enter the human dimension… Ultimately, man is not subject to the conditions that confront him; rather, these conditions are subject to his decision. Wittingly or unwittingly, he decides whether he will face up or give in, whether or not he will let himself be determined by the conditions.” 
— An excerpt from Psychotherapy and Existentialism

May your spirit grow stronger in the face of crisis!

If you are challenged with negative thinking, then contact Joy for a complimentary consultation to find out how your can reframe your thinking and live a more positive and happy life. Contact Joy at 415-819-8769 or email me today!

 

Why do I have to work so hard for everything I get?

Better be on guard, for the next bad thing is sure to happen.

Why can’t I ever get ahead?

Do these kinds of thoughts weave their way through your mind? If so, are they even yours? Or are they stray thoughts picked up from the mass collective that pervade the space around us just like air molecules?

I am beginning to have some serious questions about the source of many of my negative thoughts. In reality I have a pretty good life. I am doing the work I love. I have clients who value my skills, knowledge and experience. I was able to get the education I wanted and benefit from that knowledge. I live in a beautiful place where I feel safe. I have great friends and communities. My family is doing well. I have financial resources that enable me to do the things I really want to do.

YET… I still fall into that victim negative thinking of not having enough, or being enough!

When I stop and count my blessings, I realize that I really have a lot. My gratitude list is quite long. Why, then, do I keep cycling into negative thinking?

I am beginning to realize that some of those thoughts just aren’t mine, even though they pervade my thinking and pull me down just as if they were mine.

Some of those thoughts I can trace back to my parents. Both grew up during the depression. My mother repeatedly told the story of having to give back all her Christmas gifts when she was four because her parents lost all their money when the stock market crashed. They couldn’t pay off their debts and everything had to go back, even her favorite new purse. My father grew up on the farm with an outhouse and no electricity. He worked hard on that farm even though he was just a child. Both my parents suffered from what I call “depression mentality.”

My parents probably had many legitimate reasons for harboring thoughts about life being hard, and money being hard to come by. This was their experience, and I honor their experience. But their experience is not my reality! I’m learning to recognize the limiting thoughts of my parents, to separate their thoughts from my thoughts, and to mentally “send them back” to my parents. I don’t have to continue carrying the burden of my parents’ experience!

If your parents have passed on their own limiting thoughts, then you can send them back also. We all have enough going on right now in the present. We don’t need to dredge up the past, especially if it’s a past that belonged to our parents.

Sometimes we create a contract with our parents promising to suffer from the same burdens they did. It’s time to tear up those contracts and send back, or delete them – each thought one by one.

As soon as you recognize a negative thought as belonging to your parent, or anyone else, mentally stop, gather it up, and send it back. You can imagine emailing it back through the ethers, or burning it in a transmuting violet flame, or you can even put it in a bottle and throw it into an imaginary sea. Simple visuals like these will help you contain those thoughts that piggyback onto yours and release them. This practice will help you make more room for your own thoughts which are probably much more positive – much like my own present time thoughts are.

Our parents influence the development of our belief systems and how we operate in the world. Many times this is positive. Sometimes, however, we pick up some negative debris that we just need to purge. If you have trouble letting go of the experiences, thoughts and beliefs of your parents, or the mass consciousness in general, give me a call and come in for a complementary consultation. It is time to embrace the present and to be the master of your thoughts. Call Joy at 415-819-8769 or email joy@joyreichard.com.

When I was younger, I felt a need to express whatever was on my mind just to make sure my partner knew what I was thinking and feeling. This was especially true when I was frustrated, upset or angry at them. I believed in the myth that communication was key! It always improved the quality of a relationship.

What I’ve learned the hard way over the 60+ years of my life is that “positive” communication can deepen the feelings between two people. “Negative” communication, however, can be damaging and create barriers to intimacy, especially if it is a large part of the communication that’s going on in a relationship.

When people have critical or judgmental feelings for each other and spend the majority of time expressing them, it doesn’t clear the air and bring clarity. Instead it can act as a wedge that drives people further apart. One famous relationship expert, George S. Pransky, wrote, “Communication is a pipe through which feelings pass. If the feelings are positive, the relationship will be uplifted. If they are negative, the couple’s level of closeness will drop.”

Many of my clients who are experiencing ‘challenges’ in their relationships don’t realize that it’s positive feelings and a sense of appreciation and goodwill that brings closeness between couples. Not More Talk! And these good feelings can be expressed in many more innovative ways than through just talking.

It’s as if there is a relationship bank account. Feelings are the deposits and withdrawals. When there is a lot of goodwill and positive feelings toward each other, deposits are made. Communication and actions expressing ill will (frustration, anger, irritation, criticism) are withdrawals. As a matter of fact, there is no such thing as a productive discussion that alienates people!

A rule of thumb I suggest to my clients is that if they or their partner are in a bad mood, to hold off on any deep conversations. Wait until both of you are feeling calmer and more objective.

If you’re still bothered by the issue after calming down, then bring it up preferably in a composed, non-confrontational manner. Focus on how your partner’s behavior or comments made you feel. Then let them know how a different approach would make you feel better.

If you find that after 5-10 minutes things are not getting better, and are in fact getting worse, then just STOP THE CONVERSATION and try again later. Talking an issue to death will not make things better, and will most likely intensify feelings of ill-will.

I wish I knew this nugget of wisdom two marriages ago!

Troubled relationships are one of the most common reasons why a client comes to see me. If you’re having difficulties in your relationship and can’t seem to make things better, then give me a call to schedule a 30-minute complementary consultation to see how I might be able to help. Contact me TODAY or call 415-819-8769. For more information about my services go to JoyReichard.com.
The Way it Was 

For much of recorded history women have been second-class citizens in a male-dominant world. In ancient history this was not the case. Women were honored, as was the Mother Goddess. They could own property, run businesses, children were identified through the mother’s line, and they were community and spiritual leaders.

Then things began to change. Around the second millennium BCE the first laws of recorded history, the Hammurabi’s Code, was written onto clay tablets. Some of these laws regulated the rights and freedom of women. It limited their mobility, their rights to own property, their sexual freedom, and their rights to their own children. Their male relatives, husbands, and even their male sons gained power over women. This notion of women as second class citizens was perpetuated in sacred text, religious institutions, and in ancient legends and myths that are still at the heart of our culture.

This had a devastating effect on women that is still reverberating through much of the world today. According to the Hunger Project, fifty-five million women in the world don’t have enough to eat. Every five seconds a child dies from hunger related diseases. One third of American women are more likely to be poor compared to their male counterparts. And single mothers are 67.7% more like to be living in poverty than a single father.

Change Is Afoot 

There have been some fundamental shifts in the global economy and business patterns that are creating change. For better or worse we have moved from an agricultural and manufacturing economy to an information economy which depends on smarts, not brawn. In many countries women equal or exceed the education backgrounds of their male counterparts. More and more women are positioned to benefit economically. Women own half our nation’s wealth and control a majority of household spending decisions – to the tune of five trillion dollars. Women make over 80% of consumer purchases in the US. The results: women are setting trends. For example, the increase in the availability of organic products is because of women’s influence based on their concern for the families’ health and wellbeing.

Women lacked organization and strategic alliances however, until the Women’s March, the worldwide protest on January 21, 2017. I It was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. t’s purpose was to unite women in order to advocate for legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues, including women’s rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, reproductive rights, the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion, and workers’ rights. The rallies were aimed at the recently elected President Trump and largely due to statements and positions attributed to him that were regarded as offensive and anti-women.

The Women’s March sent a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world, that women’s rights are human rights. The Washington March was streamed live on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

The Washington March drew 440,000 to 500,000 people, and worldwide participation has been estimated at five million. At least 408 marches were reported to have been planned in the U.S. and 168 in 81 other countries. After the marches, officials who organized them reported that 673 marches took place worldwide, on all seven continents, including 29 in Canada, 20 in Mexico,and one in Antarctica. In Washington D.C. alone, the protests were the largest political demonstrations since the anti-Vietnam War protests in the 1960s and 1970s, with both protests drawing in similar numbers. The Women’s March crowds were peaceful, and no arrests were made in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Seattle, where an estimated combined total of two million people marched.

This march provided the chance to create community and were an opportunity for social action and protest as well as solidarity for healing, for bridging race and sexuality differences.

It was an opportunity to remind the world and our congressional leaders that women are still here, we are still relevant, and we are willing to engage in social action to protest and seek remediation of our civil and human rights.  It was an opportunity to stand up and demand that this presidential administration and the Republican-led Congress invite women of all identities and backgrounds to the table to listen to experts on issues of housing and health care and education. Women want a say in the types of programs which will allow women and their children to pursue the American Dream and those that will distance us from achieving that dream.

For Our Daughters and Granddaughters 

Nothing that we have taken for granted for the last forty years is safe.  And, though we’ve seen the erosion of welfare benefits and reproductive rights take place for decades, including under the watch of President Bill Clinton, there is nothing like this current administration to remind women that we need to be ever vigilant. Just as civil rights have eroded for Black Americans, so have they for women. Both trends will continue in a downward spiral if we don’t constantly hold those in power responsible for protecting the civil and human rights we’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Unfortunately, the glass ceiling still exists in every part of life when it comes to gender equality. We must continue to fight for equal rights so that we can ensure that our daughters and granddaughters have better opportunities, more access, and more control over their lives and their bodies than we did.

It’s been four months since the march. We were awakened from our complacency. Let’s not go back to sleep. It’s more important than ever to stay vigilant, to stand in our truth, to take appropriate action, and to keep speaking up so our voices will be heard and counted.

I recently set a boundary. It was with a colleague whom I liked and respected. Setting that boundary was really tough!

Here I am, a ‘mature’ business woman with lots of life experience, who runs her own practice, and is a leader in her community… and it was still very challenging to set that boundary! How many of you experience similar difficulties when having to confront someone for whatever reason?

Well… I ended up setting the boundary, but then spent a sleepless night stewing over it. What came up in the stew was that I felt guilty because I ‘dared’ to set a boundary!

As I ‘unpacked’ my feelings attempting to get at the source of why this had me in such turmoil, I realized that, somehow, I felt wrong for setting the boundary. As if it wasn’t OK to protect my space.

I finally comprehended that I had been living by an old story about how I should show up in the world. It went something like this: “Be nice, accommodating and understanding of everyone else. It’s your job. It’s OK if others take advantage of you because of your niceness. They will like you for being so nice and accommodating. You must be liked. The world won’t be safe if you aren’t liked.”

Wow! Where did this come from? I had been giving everyone license to walk all over me. Where was my backbone? What happened to my power?

As I dug deeper I realized that as a preacher’s kid with a stern father, I had quickly learned that as a child being super “nice” was expected.  It became the ‘role’ I took on and played all my life. When I set that boundary, I confronted the role of “be nice and accommodating.”  I said, “NO! I deserve to be respected.”

Even though I did the right thing, I still went through quite a bit of inner disturbance. This showed me how challenging it can be to change an old story about how one should show up in the world. Even if I was ready to change that old story, it still created a lot of inner conflict!

We all have our stories that define the roles by which we live. Some build us up by flooding us with confidence and inner strength. Others are self-denigrating and self-sabotaging. They keep us stuck in being small, limited, and filled with self-doubt.

Changing these old stories can be challenging, especially when it generates fear or panic like it did for me. Some of these stories sound like, “I’m not good enough so I’d better not take on anything too big.”  Or, “It’s not safe to be seen so I better play it low key.”  Or, “I have to work really hard to make it. There’s no time for play or having fun.”  Or, “Why bother to try. Somebody else will do it better.”

These old stories go on and on, simmering just under the radar in our subconscious and keeping us from living to our potential. When we try to stretch ourselves, our fear of actually doing something outside the norm yanks us back into staying ‘safe’… but small.

It’s time for you to start living as your big self. When you feel that sense of fear or panic, gather up your courage, then ‘Do It Anyway.’

The rewards of standing in your truth and changing those old stories are much greater than staying stuck in a role that has grown much too small for the potential of who you can be!

So, what happened with that colleague with whom I set the boundary? She realized that she had overstepped her bounds and was apologetic. She made appropriate amends. The result is that our friendship and collegial relationship is stronger than ever, and I feel more empowered because I took a stand and claimed my right to be respected.

If you are plagued with negative thoughts and old stories of how you should show up in your life, then give me a call for a 30-minute complimentary consultation and find out how you can live the life you were joyfully meant to live. Call me TODAY! 415-819-8769 or email me.

Has someone hurt you in the past? Maybe betrayed a trust? Offered unwelcomed criticism? Placed blame unfairly?

When someone hurt you, did you have you have a hard time letting it go? Did you harbor anger, resentment, or even thoughts of revenge?

Have you found it difficult to embrace forgiveness and move forward?

Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Perhaps your mother criticized your parenting skills, your colleague sabotaged a project, or your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness, or even vengeance.

I’ve harbored bitter feelings towards a couple of ‘exes’ for a long time. During a recent illness that lingered for 6 weeks I was given way too much time to process these old hurts. I did a lot of reflection on forgiveness and compassion and why these too human characteristics are so important.

Wise elders from all traditions have told us that if we don’t practice forgiveness, we might be the ones who pay most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, we’re told that we can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy.

Forgiveness can lead you down the path ofphysical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Defining forgiveness

Generally, forgiveness is coming to terms with the wisdom of letting go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. Although you might always remember the act that hurt or offended, eventually there is realization that forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, more positive parts of your life. The process of forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you. Nor does it minimize or justify the wrong. It’s possible to forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness allows you to find a place of inner peace that helps you go on with life free from the feelings of resentment and bitterness.

The importance of forgiveness

Letting go of grudges and bitterness can help you create a life with more happiness, health and peace. The Mayo Clinic claims that forgiveness can lead to:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Higher self-esteem
Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?

When you’re hurt by someone you love and trust, you might become angry, sad or confused. Dwelling on these hurtful events or situations allows grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility to fester and take root. Our imagination is so powerful that rehashing these negative feelings can inflame the hurt and pain so that it crowds out positive feelings. Then you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.

Holding a grudge can harm you

If you hold onto these old grudges and resentments, the Mayo Clinic states that you might:

  • Pollute other relationships and new experiences with anger and bitterness
  • Allow the toxic memories of past wrongs to negatively impact the present
  • Become depressed or anxious
  • Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or to cause you to feel disconnected from spirit or your spiritual beliefs
  • Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others
How can you reach a state of forgiveness?

Forgiveness is decision to be honest with yourself and reflect on the situation with more compassion and a larger perspective of yourself and the other party or parties.

To begin, you might:

  • Reflect on the particulars of the situation, how you’ve reacted, and how the resentment and bitterness has affected your life, health and well-being.
  • Consider the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time.
  • Actively choose to view the other person with compassion while trying to understand them and their situation, and allow forgiveness to emerge when you are ready.
  • Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power that the offending person and situation has had on your life.

As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding.

Forgiveness isn’t easy

It’s not always easy to forgive. This is especially true if the other person doesn’t want to admit wrong and/or doesn’t speak of his or her own sorrow. If you find yourself stuck:

  • Consider the situation from the other person’s point of view.
  • Ask yourself why he or she would behave in such a way. Perhaps you would have reacted similarly if you faced the same situation.
  • Reflect on times you’ve hurt others and on those who’ve forgiven you.
  • Write in a journal, pray or use guided meditation – or talk with a person you’ve found to be wise and compassionate, such as a spiritual leader, a mental health provider, or an impartial loved one or friend.
  • Be aware that forgiveness is a process and even small hurts may need to be revisited and forgiven over and over again.
Forgiveness and reconciliation
It’s important to remember that forgiveness doesn’t always lead to reconciliation. If you’ve had a close relationship with the offending party prior to the hurt, then forgiveness might lead to reconciliation. This isn’t always the case, however. Sometimes there can be forgiveness yet the relationship never quite goes back to the way it was.

If the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate then it might not be possible to achieve reconciliation. Sometimes reconciliation might not be appropriate. Still, it’s important to remember that forgiveness is possible – even if reconciliation isn’t.

Forgiveness isn’t about getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words. Forgiveness is more about how it can change your life by helping you to find greater peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can also take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life.

Forgiveness is a process that takes time

Remember, forgiveness is a process. Your ability to forgive may not happen overnight. Nor can you force someone to forgive you if, in your process, you realize that you might have to take some responsibility for what happened.

People need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever the outcome, allow yourself to move to a state of forgiveness. Forgiveness is important for your own health and well-being. Then commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was YOU!

If you are harboring bitterness, anger, and/or resentment and are having a hard time letting it go, then give Joy Reichard a call to find out how she can help you move to a state of forgiveness so you can find more peace and happiness in your life. Email Joy today or contact Joy at 415-819-8769.

Adapted from words of wisdom obtained from a Mayo Clinic article on forgiveness.