Possibility Warrior

Lighting The Way Forward

Type Power

February 27, 2018
by PoWa

What Else is Possible?

A friend of mind recently made a good point that humility and curiosity go together. It takes some humility to admit you don’t already know everything, and not already knowing everything is prerequisite for the curiosity to learn more.

When I look at the natural world, or at a machine, I don’t think: “I know all there is to know about how this plant/animal/object in front of my eyes works.” Yet, somehow an immediate explanation for other people’s behavior jumps into my mind and I tend to run with it straight into whatever emotional upset that hypothesis requires, without ever even noticing that I literally just took a stab in the dark of my own head for their motivation.

Part of my current spiritual practice (by “spiritual” I mean exploring my unconscious motivations) lately has been to notice when I’m making an assumption about the motivations of other people, and then asking myself: “Can I think of any other explanations?” This is a great question to ask to challenge our assumptions in general.

If we asked this question about the ad we just saw, we might not get drawn into whatever assumptions the advertisers want us to hold that will increase the odds we’ll buy their product. (Ad: People are constantly looking at your wrinkles and judging you! Quick, spend your money on this wrinkle cream! Spend hours of your life applying it while looking at yourself in the mirror judging yourself for your wrinkles so that you’ll keep buying wrinkle cream for decades!! OR… just forget your wrinkles, laugh and enjoy your friendships, and assume that no one else is even noticing your facial skin folds!)

If we asked this question about the news we read, we might not get drawn into emotional outbursts over fake news. (OMG!!! A Muslim Scholar Advocated ‘Colonizing’ U.S. and Canada with Sharia Law? We have to kick out all the Muslims!!!!  OR… Hmm, I wonder if this is actually true? Let me go to Snopes.com and check. Ah, I see this is a fabricated story designed to sow fear and discord among Americans. So glad I didn’t fall for it.)

If we asked this question about the motivations of the people in our lives, we might have more harmonious relationships. (OMG! He didn’t reply to my text! He hates me. He’s rude. He doesn’t care about me. He only thinks about himself. OR… Maybe he’s really busy, couldn’t think of a response to the text immediately and then got distracted, or didn’t have time to respond immediately and then got side tracked. Maybe I’ll give him a call later tonight and see how he’s doing.)

The key here is to pause, take a deep breath, and not run with the first story (assumption) that occurs to us or is handed to us. Have the humility to consider, it might be wrong! After taking a step back, we can look at this story and wonder with curiosity if it is true, or if there might be other explanations. Before reacting, we can ask ourselves:

What Else is Possible?

Thanks Cherri, for both inspiring this post, and inspiring me to get it published!  😉

January 10, 2018
by PoWa

Ways to Alleviate Depression

I apologize to my readers for being away from the blog for the past year. A great deal of my energy had to be diverted to pulling myself out and staying out of the depression caused by the results of the 2016 election. Thinking about that a year later prompted to me to share some of the techniques that have helped me overcome my life-long depression (and situational relapses). These suggestions can be tried in addition to care recommended by medical professionals.

Gratitude Practice: One of the top things you can do to help yourself is begin a gratitude practice. It does not matter if you feel grateful, or if you believe your statements of gratitude. If you practice long enough, eventually you will realize that things changed somewhere down the line and now you do feel the gratitude you’ve been cultivating.

Make “Thank You” a mantra that you repeat over and over, every time you can think of it, as many times as you can. Set a phone alarm to remind you several times a day. Keep a journal where you write 5 or 10 things that you are grateful for everyday. If you can’t think of anything, cover all the basics — food, shelter, family, friends, pets, clothing, health, limbs, etc.

Doggedly keep up your Gratitude Practice until it is such a habit, you no longer need phone alarms and journals.

Stop Complaining: The corollary of the gratitude practice is to stop complaining because it mires you in the negative. Recognize and acknowledge the negative, but only so that you can formulate a plan for surmounting it. When you catch yourself complaining, make a conscious decision to stop and redirect your thinking towards solutions, gratitude, happier thoughts — anywhere away from dwelling on what’s not great.

Pro-Action: Maybe there is some specific stressor in your life that is wearing you down, that you can’t do much to fix. First, limit your exposure. For example, don’t sit and watch bad news for hours. Don’t join in when your co-workers are complaining about your crappy work environment. Second, take steps, tiny as they may be, towards changing your situation. Write your congress people, sign petitions, join a march. Apply to different jobs, work on that career advancing degree, start a savings account even if you only save $1 a month. Doing something, anything gives you a taste of self-efficacy, which feeds on itself.

Notice the Good: Good feelings, happy events, and improvements in your life have a greater impact if you notice them. Be on the look out for anything nice that happens and celebrate it. Let yourself indulge in a nice big grin. Stop and take a deep breath of sweet clean air after a rain. Feel the awe spread through your body at the beauty of a sunset. Let that loving feeling melt your insides as you look at someone precious to you. Soak up those moments, revel in them, acknowledge them with gratitude.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Learning to recognize that you are in the middle of having negative thoughts is a pretty big deal. It’s the first step to changing the way you think. There are a variety of patterns of negative thinkings, such as overgeneralization, catastrophizing, and all-or-nothing. These are patterns that take your depression by the hand and say, “let’s jump.” You can learn to see the thoughts as unwanted bad influences in your life. Replacing these negative patterns of thinking isn’t going to suddenly turn you into a jolly elf, but it will begin to rewire neural circuits in your brain.

Smile Therapy: Yes, it’s corny, annoying, and disingenuous, but do it anyway. Force yourself to smile. Try to bring the smile into your eyes. Do it as often as you can remember, every day, day after day, for months. It doesn’t matter if you feel happy, just do it. You are training your body to recognize a different way of being. And your mind is easily fooled. It will start to think you must be happier just because your body is acting happier. No, this is not a cure for medical chronic depression. It is one tactic you can throw at it though – death by a thousand smiles.

Pet Therapy: Never underestimate the comfort a warm, furry, loving pet can provide. If you don’t have a pet, arrange to spend some cuddle time with a friend’s pet. You’ll be rewarded with waves of oxytocin.

Safe Place Therapy: Inner healing requires that you feel safe, however, you may not know how to feel safe even when you are safe. I suggest creating a place where you practice cultivating the feeling of safety. For me it’s in bed under the covers. I actively feel the soft sheets, warm blankets, snuggling puppers, overhead shelter, safe neighborhood… and remind myself that this is what Safe feels like. I am Safe. And I created this for myself. I create Safety. As you begin to embody this feeling, you’ll be increasingly able to address the parts of yourself trapped in the depressions of fear and insecurity.

Somatic Therapy: Embodied feeling is essential for recovery from depression. The illness is in your physical being — muscles, nerves, organs, digestive system, endocrine system. It’s important to learn to notice the physical sensations occurring in your body, tie them to feelings, and trace those feelings back to the traumatic experiences where they originated. From there, the trapped physical reactions can be released, which is physical healing. This should only be done in a Safe Place, or you are likely to be retraumatized. This should be assisted by someone trained to guide you gently through the process. I recommend reading the author Peter A Levine, PhD, especially In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness.

None of these recommendations is likely to work magic on their own. The idea is to resolve to take on a long term brain rewiring campaign, and to stick with it until you see results. Realize that could take months or years. However, the combined attack of these tactics (perhaps along with medication and therapy) WILL make positive changes in your life. You’ll still have ups and downs, but they will begin to happen along an overall upward trajectory. A few years down the line, you will look back and be so grateful you started and stuck with it.


March 6, 2017
by PoWa

Activism Without Overwhelm

As our freedom is being systematically dismantled day by day, I see people feeling too overwhelmed to participate in the resistance. I understand — I want to stay informed, I want to do all I can to fight for freedom, but the constant onslaught of awful plunged me into depression after the election. Since the odds of saving America increase the more people we have fighting for the country, I want to share the developing survival strategies that are helping me be an active part of the resistance while also maintaining my personal health.

1. Your action makes a difference.

I went to a town hall where my Democratic House Representative was collecting constituent stories to take back to Congress about how the ACA has helped save lives. After telling her story, a woman said that she wrote letters, called her reps everyday, signed petitions, went to town halls, participated in rallies, but she wanted to do more. She asked what else she could do to help our rep help us. Representative Chu said, “keep doing what you are doing. It is making a difference. It gives us the ammunition we need to go to our colleagues and say, this has to change.” Our numbers matter and these seemingly small actions are moving us forward.

2. You have to do something, but you don’t have to do everything.

A beautiful analogy made the rounds on social media about songs and symphonies with notes longer than any one person has the breath to hold. The singers or players will stagger taking a breath so that everyone can pause, but the song keeps going. That is what we have to do. There are millions of us. If you need to take a break, you can, because others will be taking action. If you have the energy to act, do, because others will need to step back for a rest.

3. Pick a focus.

It’s absolutely staggering how fast and furious the Republican Administration is attacking every aspect of what we value. It’s just not possible for you as an individual to respond to all of it. So pick what is most important to you from the issues — the environment, immigration, women’s rights, rights for those of alternative gender or sexuality, voting/election reform, saving science, saving the arts, saving education, corporate corruption, health care, social security, protecting water, protecting the judicial system… Whatever is important to you, you can find organizations that will keep you updated. Maybe you pick one or two, or a different issue for each day, but give yourself permission to tackle a select set of issues.

4. Pick a reasonable engagement level.

Maybe you decide to focus on saving the ACA. That doesn’t mean you have to address every single thing that happens regarding the ACA. Assess your energy level and do what you can realistically manage from day to day. If you spend 5 minutes on the phone a day, or 2 minutes emailing your reps a day, that’s better than not acting. You can join groups who will send you emails giving you actions to take. Perhaps you put it on your daily schedule, 20 minutes to respond to the action messages in your inbox.

5. Stop when you need to.

You need to stop and take a break when taking action is harming you physically and emotionally. This means you have to be attuned to your body and feelings and notice when you are no longer calm and compassionate. If you find yourself feeling hatred or despair, or your muscles are tightening and you aren’t breathing deeply, it’s time to step back and take a break. You could push through these feelings and sensations, but I guarantee this will cause burnout. It takes a long time to recover from burnout. It’s much better to pace yourself day-to-day, hour-to-hour, doing a little everyday rather than driving yourself into the ground trying to do more than your resources actually allow.

6. Have ways to balance yourself.

If you take action, you’re going to have to face harsh realities. Rather than avoid reality (and action), you can create your own personal relief kit to counter the accompanying anxiety. Finding practices that re-equilibrate you physically and emotionally will help you in all areas of your life. Get outside and get active or enjoy nature (walk, hike, bike, etc or just sit outside and watch a sunset), meditate, take a bath or shower, cuddle with a pet or loved one, practice yoga, breathing exercises, or a martial art, read, do something creative and artistic, use aromatherapy, take a nap. The idea is to stop yourself soon enough, so that techniques like this can quickly help you recenter.

7. Find support.

You are not in this battle alone. Find like-minded people. They are everywhere. Join social media groups, find local groups, make friends, and support each other. We are in this for the long-haul. We are going to take action and keep acting. Isolation and keeping your head in the sand are just not options at this point. This is a fantastic opportunity to forge new connections and feel like you are a part of something bigger than yourself.


January 16, 2017
by PoWa

The Darkness

It started as dark smudge on the horizon. Most people didn’t even notice it. The warriors squinted and felt a sense of foreboding. It grew bigger with every passing week, until no one could ignore it. It was blacker than night and blotted out an entire stretch of sky, relentlessly growing broader and higher and deeper.

No one understood it and everyone argued about it. Plants began to wither and animals fled. And then the noise started, an awful furious anger of souls damned, harsher than nails on a chalkboard. The darkness came faster, it encompassed everything. The warriors looked on in horror as it closed in on them in rage, disintegrating their shields and sucking the light from their staffs.

The land was swallowed in screaming, hateful darkness so thick the people could barely breathe. Many became depressed without the sun and despaired against the heavy weight of the pounding, insatiable darkness.

Then the warriors began to notice that just dimly nearby, they could make out the flickering, struggling lights of other warriors. And so they began to find each other and pool their light. As they did, each light strengthened in brightness and the group together shone greater than the sum of its lights. Then the warriors began to hand lights to those in despair and offered them hope and solidarity and the circles of light grew.

So the darkness was pierced by small, beaming pools of light. The darkness howled and stormed, but the lights together could not be put out. Instead they grew stronger. And those who had been lost in the dark forest for ages could see these lights and find their way out, renewed with purpose to fight as warriors and end the darkness.

The groups of warriors began to find other groups, to forge connections and to coordinate actions. And with each action their lights grew brighter. But it was hard. So everyday, all day, they reminded each other, over and over again:

We must keep working together, shining our lights, until the darkness is vanquished.


December 12, 2016
by PoWa

Heads Up!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you look around at all that seems to be wrong with the world. It’s tempting to put your head back down and hope it will all go away… somehow. Here are some tips to help you face reality — and do something about it!

  1. Remember the Good: Not all is lost, not everyone is evil, and there is still good in the world. It’s really important to remember this and actively seek out the good around you in your life everyday. Don’t let the negative become all you focus on or it will sap all your strength.
  2. You are not alone. There are so many others who feel the same way as you. Find ways to connect with these like-minded people. Talk with them daily to provide mutual encouragement and stamina. United in solidarity we can stand.
  3. Don’t feed the trolls. This is super important — don’t argue with or defend yourself against someone who is verbally abusive. If you can have a calm and productive conversation (preferably in person) with someone willing to exchange and consider ideas, that’s good. But a lot of people are out there just to bully, attack, and deflect and drain your energy. Cut them off immediately. Walk away, delete their comment, keep scrolling — but do not waste your valuable energy. This is especially true online where you often can’t even be sure that the comment comes from a real person rather than a comment generating bot!
  4. Stand up for each other. If someone is being harassed, become their immediate new friend. Help them get out of the situation. Some day, some one may do the same for you. We’re all going to get to know each other better and this is a good thing!
  5. Stay informed. Find news sources you can trust, and keep up on what’s happening. Even if you only have a few minutes here and there throughout the day.
  6. Insist on objective analysis. The only way you can defend yourself from being duped by snake oil peddlers is to understand how truth can be gotten at objectively. Opinion is not truth. People are lying to you left and right. Calm, critical thinking is incredibly important right now.
  7. Do something proactive daily. Contact your representatives. Donate.Volunteer. Find out what’s going on locally and get involved. There are plenty of groups that provide you with information on valuable actions to take. You’ll feel better when you know you are actively being part of the solution.

Thank you for all you do!


November 28, 2016
by PoWa

Thank You

I am Thankful …

That I was born in an urban area and grew up next to people of all races, so that I know I don’t need to fear people who look different from me.

That I have been able to travel to see other parts of the country and world where people live differently from me, and may not have the privileges I have had.

That I had the opportunity to get a good, broad education to inform my opinions and decisions.

That I have met so many wonderful people of all races, genders, and religions — giving me hope for humanity.

That I live in relative safety and privilege compared to nearly all humans who have ever lived.

That I have always found a way to pull through tough circumstances.

That I have found a network of support and no longer feel so alone in my desire for a progressive world.

That I live in a time when so many people are conscious and working for freedom and safety for all people.

For dogs, soft beds, warm blankets, and tea.

For YOU.


November 21, 2016
by PoWa

Projection and Hate

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself.”
~Hermann Hesse

Projection is a psychological process where we attribute qualities within ourselves to others . It’s a long recognized human emotional defense tactic of self-justification by blame shifting. In 500 CE, the Talmud warned, “Do not taunt your neighbour with the blemish you yourself have.” 

Freud explained that parts of ourselves that we can’t accept, we attribute to others. Jung called these projected parts of our personality our Shadow — things about ourselves we don’t want to acknowledge. “Look at how angry that person is!” we rant angrily. And there, now the focus has shifted off our own anger to their anger. We list and rehash their sins, in order to reassure ourselves that our own actions are justified, that we are right.

Projection is usually viewed negatively, but I see it as a compassion and consciousness development tool. For one, it can help us hear what people actually mean in what they say. When someone excoriates foreigners because “they hate our freedom,” it is useless to argue that foreign animosity is not due to a hatred for our Bill of Rights. That’s because this claim is a projection, not a reasoned argument. The person making the claim is themselves concerned about the growing freedoms in our country for traditionally marginalized groups, because they feel their own survival is threatened.

Projections occur when intense emotions are invoked, like fear for survival or anger at not getting ahead with hard work. When this is happening, there is no room for calm and reasoned debate. It also doesn’t help to point out that the other person is projecting, much like it doesn’t help to tell someone terrified of flying that most planes don’t crash.

When you learn to recognize projection, you can avoid pouring your limited energy down a black hole of agitation by walking away from projection conversations instead of feeding them with argument. Or, if you feel it is really worth your energy, you can try to learn and address the actual underlying root fear behind the projection, with compassion.

If we can mindfully catch ourselves intensely emotional and insistent on the flaws and horrid behaviors of another, we can explore our own projections to shine a light on the shadow aspects in our unconscious. The current political climate is an excellent time for this practice, as it has us all wildly projecting in every direction like a garden hose turned on highest pressure and flailing uncontrolled to assail anything within striking distance.

For example, in the past week, I’ve found myself absolutely appalled that those people would try to take away the freedoms my country has fought so hard and long to establish for the huddled masses yearning to breathe free! With some consideration and introspection however, I realized that I was actually appalled at myself for taking my freedoms so for granted that I became lazy about my involvement in politics and civil justice.

Here’s the part where you forgive yourself and vow to make a change, with compassion. Now’s the time to move beyond anger at them, and acknowledge we are angry at ourselves for letting it happen. Now it’s time to move beyond complacency and get to work. Now is the time to be grateful for the mass fire that has been ignited under the collective progressive majority, and to think of all we can accomplish with this energy united for positive change!


November 14, 2016
by PoWa
1 Comment

Fear, Anger, Hate, Violence

“Between stimulus and response there’s a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”  ~Victor Frankl

This is a really intense and emotional time in the USA. A large number of people are truly afraid and angry; and have good reason to be fearful for the lives of minorities and angry over false accusations and threats to eliminate freedoms.

Fear and Anger are emotions that carry a huge charge. They are emotions that trigger reaction, and the gut reaction is to look for confirmation of our fears and attack back. But that’s the reaction that got us into the mess we are in right now. The thinking that created the mess cannot fix it.

If we want our nation back so that we can continue to progress towards greater safety and freedom for all, we will have to do so in way that doesn’t include fear, anger, hate, or violence. This is not an easy thing to do because it requires the strength and courage to act rather than react.

The majority of people in our nation are progressive. Now is the time for us to build the strength and courage required to act out of calm compassion rather than out of fear and anger, so we can bring our progressive values back to our country. I’m not saying not to feel fear and anger — you feel what you feel. And when you do feel fear and anger, STOP.

Take a breath. Sit down. Wait. Emotions are waves. They come from the distance, growing larger and more fearsome. They slam into you and fall over you and you are for a time under the waters of the strong currents of emotion. Then the wave passes. You can stand up, shake off, and look around to see calmer waters.

In the calmer waters, you can plan how to act.

Here’s an example. When you see the latest hate note spreading around on social media, STOP. Breathe. DON’T post your initial response. Put the computer aside and wait. Feel the Fear — what if you, or someone you know and love is threatened or attacked? Feel the Anger — it is not okay that hate and discrimination won in this election. It is not okay that people are threatening others with impunity. It is not okay that the rights and freedoms we’ve worked so hard for may be taken away. Let yourself feel these emotions, but wait them out.

Breathe. Remember that our country (and the world) has a very long history of hate and violence. Remember that we have a long history of people fighting against that hate and violence. Remember that you are a fighter. Remember that you DO have power and that you WILL use it. Breathe. Resolve to act rather than react.

Now. Write to your State and Federal government representatives. Tell them this behavior is not okay. Ask them to stand up and publicly condemn such behavior. Ask them to set up crisis support for those who are being attacked.

Now. Go introduce yourself to your neighbors who have dark skin, an alternate lifestyle, or are women living alone. Give them your number and tell them that if they ever feel threatened to contact you, because you will stand with them.

Now. Take a bold, progressive action like this every day between now and the 2018 elections. THIS is how we will take our country back. THIS is how we will reestablish our values of freedom and safety for all humans, regardless of race, gender, or sexual, political, or religious orientation.


November 10, 2016
by PoWa

Pramila Jayapal

Pramila Jayapal made history yesterday as the first woman elected to Washington’s 7th Congressional District, the first person of color elected to the Washington State Democratic Delegation, and the first South Asian woman ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Pramila came to the U.S. from India as a young immigrant, and has spent the last twenty years working both internationally and domestically as a leading national advocate for women’s, immigrants’, civil, and human rights. Jayapal founded OneAmerica, the largest immigrant and refugee advocacy organization in Washington State, advocating for local, state, and federal policies that make for stronger communities, including the Dream Act, and helping thousands of immigrants become active and engaged American citizens.

Pramila has helped lead the national fight for comprehensive immigration reform and due process, as co-director of We Belong Together – a campaign to mobilize women in support of common sense immigration policies that keep families together and empower women. She helped launch the National Partnership for New Americans, comprised of the country’s 37 largest regional immigrant rights organizations in 31 states.

Her campaign was supported by MAYDAY.US, a national grassroots movement to fight corruption by electing reformers on all levels of our democracy. Their aim is end big money in politics and they work to elect candidates committed to fundamental reform.

If you would like to

  • Defeat enablers of corruption
  • Elect reformers
  • Work to pass reform at all levels of government to end big money politics

then join MAYDAY.US.


November 7, 2016
by PoWa

Dear Julie,

Q. In every situation, there is clearly a protocol for accomplishing tasks most quickly and efficiently. Why am I the only person who can see this and get things done the right way the first time? ~ISTJ

A. It is an irony of humanity that most of us take far longer than needed to accomplish tasks, because we are too impatient to carefully and painstakingly follow the most direct path to accurate and timely completion. However, evolution itself did not follow an efficiently well-designed protocol to produce our cognitive capacities, so this is the mess we are left with.

Fortunately we have your type, with the steadfast perseverance to see a task through to completion, and the careful attentiveness required to complete the task correctly the first time. Really, the world would fall apart without your patient and deliberate vigilance in supplying the daily maintenance required to realize any long-term goal.

There are some types convinced that they would revel in the chaos left (they may call it something else, like “freedom”) should your type suddenly disappear from the planet. Until the metro doesn’t get them home on time and they can’t find a properly cooked meal when hungry. It is essential that you disappear (say for vacation) on a regular basis (they have a short memory), to remind such types just how essential you are to the happy frivolity they enjoy so much.

There are other types too busy entertaining ideas of what could be to attend to what is. Whatever you do, do not dismiss their ideas as frivolous, or they will take it as a challenge to harangue you with ever more impractical ideas until you throw up your hands and quit. Instead, half listen as you tend your work, compliment them on their ingenuity, and coyly ask how they will deal with the biggest obvious flaw in their hare-brained strategy. Don’t raise your objection condescendingly, convey it as a puzzle to solve, and they will run off happily to consider your challenge, leaving you in peace to get your work done.

Use your remarkable ability to see what’s in front of you, to bargain with the more scattered types. For example, offer to balance the books in exchange for Friday afternoon off. This will translate your skills into direct utility for those who don’t adequately appreciate your super powers, while simultaneously relieving them of the responsibility of devising ways to reward you for saving the day.

It’s tough to maneuver in a world full of irresponsible, unpredictable, unreliable humans. Learn to express sincere gratitude when any one gets anything right. I know you shouldn’t have to praise people for doing what they are supposed to be doing; but given that they actually do what they are supposed to do so rarely, if praise helps increase the odds, it’s worth implementing. Again, refrain from allowing your irritable frustration to show. For once they did not make your life more difficult. That really IS something to be grateful for!


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