Monthly Archives: March 2015

Detaching or Disengaging?

There is “detach with love” and then there is “disengage with compassion.”

You haven’t heard of the second one? That’s because I’ve only recently developed it. Here’s why:

During my years in Al-Anon, where I first heard the phrase, I always struggled with the “detach with love” concept. For some reason it felt difficult for me to access. The idea of loving someone and simultaneously detaching from them felt contradictory.

I tried though. I tried to detach and remain loving. I tried to love and divest myself of the desire for an outcome. I tried to detach from any hope or prayer, while offering love. It didn’t work. Love, by its nature, meant I was invested. Perhaps it would have been easier if it wasn’t my spouse I was trying to detach from. Maybe a distant cousin or acquaintance would have been easier to love without investment. So, I gave it a lot of lip service, but in the end, I could never get my head or heart around the concept of detaching from someone I loved.

Perhaps is semantics. But for me, it mattered.

In the end, I was only able to detach when I turned my love on myself. I suddenly realized the most loving thing I could do was to entirely detach from the sick/addicted person in my life, because it wasn’t loving toward me – or them.

Loving them wasn’t helping them get better, and it was slowly killing me. So, I did the loving thing and loved myself enough to leave. I detached. That was the only time I felt I could detach and be loving simultaneously. The difference was the focus of my love: I was loving myself.

Fast forward a few years, and I’ve come up with a variation on the theme that actually works for me and my clients, with whom I’ve shared this concept.

Disengage with compassion.

Love never enters the equation, therefore it’s never called into question whether you love the person or not. It’s not about love; It’s about compassion. And it’s easier to be compassionate when you disengage from the drama-trauma cycle

Disengaging means you can stay in the situation and feel empowered to choose the behaviors you wish to interact with. If they’re unhealthy, or unloving, you can choose to no longer engage them. Furthermore, you can do so with compassion.

Compassion looks like holding space for the other person to do what they’re doing without judgment by you. Compassion looks like holding your own boundaries and respecting theirs. Compassion looks like understanding, without expectation. Compassion doesn’t require you to invest in the other person or the hope that their behavior will change. Compassion helps you to remain neutral during challenging times.

So, if, like me, you have ever gotten stuck with the “push-pull” essence of “detach with love,” I suggest you try disengaging with compassion. You may find the simple word shift empowering.

YES and NO

What is the most powerful thing you’ve done? Or that you can think of?

For me, when I think about Power, an image from a scene in The Matrix pops up. It’s the moment toward the very end where Neo (Keanu Reeves) stops in the hallway, turns to his attackers, and simply says, “No.”

The entire infrastructure begins to unravel. Neo rejects the reality he had been forced to accept, and in that singular moment what was deemed “real” begins to fall away. The way things have always been done is challenged with a single-syllable two-letter word.


There can be a lot of Power in the word “no.” It’s about taking a stand. I have a phrase I started using with my clients: “stand in your boots.” (I even stand up and do it and ask them to join me.)

Stand up for yourself.
Stand firm.
Stand tall.

Standing is all about owning your space, your presence, in the world.

Similarly, the word “yes” is equally as powerful… when you’re saying it to yourself.


Saying “yes” to yourself is about acknowledging and embracing your validity in the world. It’s about honoring your place, your purpose and your truth.

“Yes” and “no” are Power-full words. They invite the potential of the Universe to a seat at the table, your table – where your dreams can become your reality.

Let It Be a Blessing (new ideas for decluttering)

Last month I attended a spiritual/energy workshop in which the instructor repeatedly referred to her “collections” of items, such as books and craft supplies. Since it was a spiritual workshop, I have to admit I was somewhat surprised to hear about the extent of her collections. For some reason, I had come to believe that the spiritual path was devoid of clutter! The general belief I held went something like this:

Spiritual awakening is a process of divesting oneself of the physical in order to be 100% in touch with the Divine.

Umm…what?!? No. That’s death, not awakening. I know I don’t believe that. However, I can see how that belief had come to exist, because I think we all hear it every day from countless places (it doesn’t have to be a spiritual guru).

Until I heard a spiritual teacher admit to owning thousands of books, I didn’t fully realize how pervasive that story was in my environment. Messages like:

We have too much stuff, and we have to get rid of it.
Live simply. Pare down.
Clear out. Declutter.

But why?

The conversation in my head prompted me to truly explore my beliefs about clutter and possessions. It has forced me to look at my own life and make new decisions about old things. Here’s what I now know:

Things are things. They’re not memories. They’re things. The memory of something is held inside you – not in the porcelain of the dish on your dresser. (The dish may be the trigger that prompts you to access the memory, but it’s not the memory itself.)

That being said, it’s also true that things are more than just things. Here’s what I mean: Some “things” are more meaningful than other “things.” And therein lies the key to deciding what to keep and what to release.

It occurred to me that the teacher’s collections bring her joy. Her “things” add value to her life by giving her hobbies and allowing her to create art and beauty. The value is not in the monetary equivalence of her library, it’s in the joy she imparts when she talks about the books she has read and owns. Her collections are not an accumulation of “things,” but rather they are a curated assortment of items that have brought her joy, knowledge, experience, and connection.

So, instead of looking at our belongings as clutter, what if we looked at each item and assessed its energetic value in our life? We do so by asking this question:

Does this item add value to my life, does it bring me joy?

If it does, then great! Use it, enjoy it, and take care of it. If it doesn’t, then it may be time to let it go.

Energetically speaking, every item in your home carries an invisible mark. The mark is the emotional energy the object carries. That mark speaks to you each time you see the item. For example, if you bought a handbag or wallet because you received a bonus at work it will carry a different energy than if you bought the same item when you were in debt, mad at someone, and/or did a bit of retail therapy. The energy is there. The key is to assess the energetic value of the item and make a decision on whether it stays or goes.

And, to help you with the releasing, let me share with you a phrase a friend of mine gave me years ago when I was cleaning out my overflowing closet:

“Let it be a blessing to someone else.”

There are people for whom that guilt-laden item would be like winning the lottery. Let it be a blessing for them.

Power with a P

Last week I shared this photo on my social media, which prompted me to go a little deeper into the discussion of Power.


​First, let’s be clear that we’re talking about personal Power. I’m not discussing the use or abuse of power – that’s not Power with a capital P. That’s power as a tool to impose on others. (Sometimes for “good” and sometimes not for “good.”)

Power with a capital P is very different. It’s the personal Power we all have within us that is activated when we are living in alignment with our soul’s purpose. Some call it being in the flow, but I think it’s more than that. I think it’s the source of flow.

I was recently asked why so many power struggles persist. I likened it to a tug-of-war game. When both parties are constantly pulling on the same rope, trying to claim their place and space, and take as much of the rope as possible, the struggle will persist. This is power as a tool – as in, “who has the most strength or can last the longest?” This is not Power.

  • Being in your Power is having the ability to recognize you’re exhausting yourself by engaging in the tug-of-war, and dropping the rope.
  • Being in your Power is not picking up the rope in the first place.
  • Being in your Power is not watching the rope game and commenting on it.
  • Being in your Power is not giving your money or your time to the events that host tug-of-war competitions.
  • Being in your Power is standing tall in your own boots, as who you are, living your life in alignment with your core values and your soul’s purpose.

For some this is about being a parent, for others it’s being a doctor, or a writer. For some it’s being an artist, yoga teacher, or an engineer. Whatever your soul is called to do, doing it is being in your Power. Living your life in alignment with who you are is being in your Power. Living in alignment with your core values is being in your Power.

The converse is true, too. When you step out of alignment with who you are and your core values, you are giving away your Power. In that sense, it’s more powerful to be neutral than anything else. And that’s where the picture came from.

I have learned in my own life that neutrality is powerful. It means that I cannot be swayed constantly, like the flag tied in the middle of the tug-of-war rope. It means I am not the flag, but rather I am a tree on the sidelines of the field where the event is being held. I have neither judgment nor investment in the events. I am rooted in who I am, and I live my life with purpose.

(That’s a great mantra by the way: I am rooted in who I am, and I live my life with purpose.)

A tree is a perfect example of standing in your Power. The tree does not judge the rain or the sun. Nor does it pace blame on the snow and ice for damaging its limbs. It stands tall, grows where it can, and draws on the natural resources around it to reinforce its purpose. A tree is neutral and wholly aligned with its nature.

Like the tree, remaining neutral on things outside of your purpose and values is a key to standing in your Power. Staying in alignment with your values and purpose is another key. Your Power is yours. Therefore, it’s your choice whether you choose to stand in it, or give it away.

Should v2.0

It’s time to have a conversation about “should.”

Let’s first look at the aversion to the word should:

I get why we have had a pushback against “should” in recent times. We needed it. We needed the catalyst and the language to pause and redirect our energies toward something more compassionate and less judgmental.

I remember when I first embraced the ‘anti-should’ movement. It felt empowering and liberating, kind of like how saying “no” feels. At one point I turned to someone who was suggesting ways for me to behave, and I said, “Don’t ‘should’ on me.”

It was that simple, that clear. Someone else was should-dumping all over me from their perspective without taking time, empathy, or compassion to understand mine. Standing up for myself and putting a stop to it felt great.

Eventually, it trickled down into telling myself to stop using the word should as well, which was even more empowering. Then, eventually, I started asking my clients to pause and redirect when they used the word themselves. I had all but obliterated “should” from my vocabulary.

For me, “should” was a bad word, with bad consequences and shameful connotations.

But wow, is that a whole lot of judgment to be placing on 6 little letters. So, it’s time to take a step back. Thankfully, a recent conversation with a friend helped me clarify the dreaded “should” and come to a new understanding.

Let’s call this “Should version 2.0.”

First of all, there are two kinds of “should” in our lives. One is spirit-enhancing and the other is spirit-draining. So, what’s the difference?

The spirit-enhancing should is value-aligned. That means that the “shoulds” we tell ourselves are in alignment with our core values and serve to help us live more fully from a values-driven direction. Examples of this might be:

  • You SHOULD kiss your partner goodnight every night (IF a core value is expressing love in relationships).
  • You SHOULD return a phone call in a timely manner (IF a core value is being prompt and/or respecting others’ time).

Shoulds that reinforce value-aligned actions would be spirit-enhancing. They serve as loving reminders. Yes, “should” can be loving.

Alternatively, the spirit-draining shoulds are judgment based. That means that they are infused with shame and carry a subsequent judgment of good or bad with them. Using the same example:

  • You SHOULD kiss your partner goodnight (because you’re a bad person if you don’t).
  • You SHOULD return a phone call in a timely manner (because if you don’t, you’re lazy and disrespectful).

The defining phrase it what changes the should, and it’s always there. You have to look for it and cross-check it against your core values. Furthermore, it’s nobody’s decision but your own what your core values are. So, “should” when delivered by an external party is almost always judgment-based.

This is the key point: if your “should” is based on external directives that you haven’t filtered through your own core values, then it’s most likely not in alignment and therefore spirit-draining.

So, if you find yourself saying “I SHOULD do this,” or ” I SHOULD do that,” the first question to ask is whether this suggestion comes from within you or outside of yourself. If it’s from outside, chances are it’s draining you.

If it’s from within:

  1. look for the qualifying phrase after the should and identify it, and
  2. run it through the filter of your core values to determine if it’s in alignment.

If it’s not, let it go and find something that is aligned. If it is aligned, embrace it for all its worth!

P.S. If you want to learn more about identifying your core values, let me know. I have a system in place that will help you and empower you through all your decisions in life.