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!  😉

used car

January 29, 2018
by PoWa

How much can you afford to spend on a used car?

When I decided to upgrade my 20-year-old Corolla, I wanted some guidance on how to figure out how much I could afford to spend on a used car upgrade. I didn’t find much advice that was helpful to me, so I’m sharing what I learned through experience.

First, look at your budget and see how much you can afford to spend monthly on financing. If you don’t have a budget, it would be very wise to start one before making a large purchase! A budget is simply a monthly list of all your income vs all your expenses so you can see how much cash you have to spare. Make sure the number you come up with is an amount you can actually afford every month. It’s a good idea to keep a budget over at least one year in order to see how your cash flow changes throughout the year.

Take into account that your financing will last for 3-6 years, but your income might not go up as much as all your expenses. To be safe, when you come up with a number, reduce it by 10-20% to account for unexpected expenses and increased cost of living. When deciding how many years to finance, allow yourself some buffer room. Finance for 4 years if your budget says you can afford to pay off the car in 3 years. Then pay more per month according to what you budgeted. If all goes well, you’ll pay off your loan early! But this way if something comes up, you have a built in safety net allowing you to pay less per month and still pay off your loan within the agreed time.

So now you have a total number representing what you can afford to spend on your car. Let’s say you came up with either $10k or $20k. Don’t go out looking at cars priced at $10k or $20k! First, subtract 10%-20% for after purchase expenses on the car – it is a used car after all. Issues that may come up requiring you to dish out more money could include tires, a maintenance check-point coming up based on mileage, general repairs, or just pimping your ride.

So now you are at $8k or $18k (on the cautious side). Don’t go out looking at cars priced at $8k or $18k just yet! The advertised price of cars does not include taxes, or the fees for registering your car with the DMV, or any other fees that the used car seller feels like adding. On that note, read up on what fees are reasonable and ask that unreasonable fees be removed. Take into account about 10-15% in taxes and fees (you can get a more accurate number by looking up your state taxes and the cost for registration at the DMV).

Now your car purchase price is around $7k or $16k! Here’s where there’s actually some good news. The advertised prices at dealerships and used car lots are way jacked up. You can often talk them down 10-20% and you should definitely try to, otherwise they are just robbing you blind! (Private sellers may be different.) Look at trade-in averages to give you a range on what the seller probably got for the car. Figure that they probably low-balled their trade-in price, then factor in a decent profit for the seller, then make your offer. Set a cap on what you are willing to pay and walk away if they won’t price the car within your budget.

Willingness to walk away is the hard part! The sellers do everything they can to make you fall in love with the car so you leave with it that day at a higher price than you had intended. If you can bring someone level-headed with you to help you stay firm on your budget, that’s a good plan. Calculate before you go what kind of bind you’d be in if you spent more than you intended. Maybe you could get by with financing an extra $1k, but $3k would squeeze you uncomfortably tight. Now you know before you go whether or not you really could pay a bit more for that awesome car you just saw and now can’t live without!

If you can establish your financing before you even start to car shop, you’ll be in a better position. Car sellers make a lot of money off of financing, so if they tell you they can save you money, you better believe they have their own interests in mind, not yours! Also, there’s almost never 0% financing – those deals usually come with monthly fees that are essentially the same as an interest rate.

Finally, you may think I’m being alarmist or overly cautious. This is the plan I followed when purchasing my used car. I took 20% out for after cost repairs, I took out about 10% for taxes and fees. I calculated a range of what I could actually pay – my preferred price and how far I could stretch that for a great car find. In the end, even with all those deductions, I ended up spending my max amount! Fortunately, due to all this thinking ahead, the amount I spent was an amount I could afford!

This is off-topic for my blog, but I wanted to share this valuable info! 🙂

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 30, 2017
by PoWa

Women’s March 2017

As an introverted empath, crowds overwhelm me, because I take on the emotions of those around me. However, my conviction to stand up for human rights required me to join the Los Angeles Women’s March. One protester’s sign summed up my sentiment, things are “So bad even introverts are here!” The collective emotions that lived in the hearts of each one of the protesters were so intense, I took them on as my own, like an emotional laundromat. I needed to process them to make sense of all I was feeling.

I first waded through the negative emotions which, like the marchers themselves, wanted to be heard. After acknowledging them, I was then able to identify the truly positive and beautiful emotions that sizzled in the air around the crowd, bouncing from heart to heart, amplifying, revitalizing. Here’s what I found.

Drawn Together by Fear, Sadness, and Anger

Anxiety, Worry, and Fear were the first emotions to come forward. They were articulated by another rally sign I saw, which said, “I’m too scared to write something funny.” It’s true, we have immense fear. We’ve read history and know what tyrants will do to the populace. American checks and balances were supposed to prevent tyrants from seizing power. What will happen to us now?

Depression, Sadness, and Grief were the second wave of emotions to surface. There’s a communal sense of mourning over the death of America. What a rare and beautiful experiment in people’s rights! But America too has fallen to a dictator, the most common fate of countries.

Jealousy, Resentment, Frustration were also simmering. We work so hard, struggle to get by, we want to take care of our families, have nice things, go on vacation. The harder we work the less we achieve because the richest horde our money. According to Oxfam, eight men (six Americans) hold more wealth than 50% of the world’s inhabitants. There is no fairness, or justice, and the system is rigged.

Anger, Hate, and Disgust boiled below the sadness and fear, pushed down but still emanating from our defensive posture. How can some be deceived by so obvious a con-artist? Why don’t the people who are supposed to represent us fight harder, stop elections from being stolen, stop politicians from propagating lies? Political greed and self-interest are astounding!
Despair, Hopelessness, and Powerlessness lie beneath all these emotions conveying the murky, terrifying feel of a desperate life-or-death fight. Perhaps we use the anger to keep our heads just above water to breathe. Perhaps the rally chants of “We have the Power,” were those of a populace testing out a new notion, one we must prove to ourselves is true.

Moving Forward with Solidarity, Courage, and Love

But there in the presence of hundreds of thousands of marchers, millions worldwide, hopeful feelings and sensations rose above these heavy weights. Foremost was the Excitement and Joy of being involved in the greatest worldwide march in history. It truly inspired Awe and Amazement to feel Unified for humanity with so many other beautiful, determined people!

Hope came out of the sheer numbers of marchers. Every person who marched must continue to actively participate in the resistance. We have the momentum of Solidarity to turn the tide of authoritarianism and revive America, land of the free. We are not alone! The entire world stood with us that day, giving us the Courage to fight.

There was Comfort and Encouragement in the overwhelming groundswell of Support. How many tens or hundreds of millions of people were Inspired as a result of the march, whether participating or watching it unfold? How many people tasted the rising of a new feeling of Empowerment?

Gratitude was an underlying current that ran during the march, showing democracy in action as we exercised our rights. We Gloried in our Freedom together, with creativity and expression, demonstrating what humanity can be, when we unify.

And finally, there was Love. An amazing outpouring of love and Respect that embraced every gender, race, religion, and body shape as equals. I felt assured of my Safety in that peaceful, respectful group. There was an unspoken agreement that we have each other’s backs, and will surge forward together, because we all Desire the opportunity for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.


January 26, 2017
by PoWa

Pennies for Beatings?

I grew up believing that my only option to survive was to work for the mean old white man patriarchy. You keep your head down and your mouth shut and be grateful that The Man is willing to give you pennies for beatings.

I grew up in the patriarchy, and I worked for The Man for most of my life. But I can’t keep my head down. With my head up I can see the injustices happening, and I can’t keep my mouth shut about them. So my boats are frequently rocking. When I realized that this was going to get me fired, I began looking for a new job in the mean old white man patriarchy.

But all I found were beatings for pennies. And I realized that I did not have one single joule of energy left to put up with it, not 1 J! (A joule (J) is the scientific unit of energy.)

I looked around at LA county and saw freelancers everywhere. People who were getting by behind The Man’s back. Women who were financially independent outside the mean old white man patriarchy.

In the face of all of the old programing of my childhood (“trying to work for yourself is the fastest way to destitution on the streets”), I decided to leave The System. Let me tell you the past few years have been challenging — like walking upriver in a flood. But I’ve succeeded because I haven’t done it alone. I found supportive groups of people. We’ve all held hands to pull each other upstream, led by those who already have sure footing on solid ground.

The old mindset keeps asking when I’m going to “get a job” (ie, bow my head and accept pennies for beatings). I have many jobs!

I work on my own terms, with the people I want to work with, and I pay my bills. But more than that, I’ve discovered a whole network of amazing people who work outside of The System and help each other, work with each other, and connect with each other.

The reason I’m telling you this is because many people are going to be losing their jobs. Before you look for another place to get pennies for beatings within the mean old white man patriarchy, I want you to know you have other Options. There is a whole other Structure out there for making a living — while doing things you love to do!

I urge you to consider this alternative. You are not alone. You can be a part of creating this alternative System of individuals working together to help each other pay bills while doing work they love. Doesn’t that sound great?

Let’s make the mean old white man patriarchal system defunct by walking away from it!


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!


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