Category Archives: choice

Apathy, Indifference and … Hope

Last week I wrote about Hope being the antidote to Fear. But what is the antidote to Hope?

I actually hadn’t thought about this, because I believe Hope is one of those things that is ever-present. Even in the worst circumstances, there seems to be hope. For years, I’ve written about how in the darkest moments you can still find that grain of sand that is Hope… somewhere… glimmering. I believe Hope is the most powerful energy in the Universe, because it’s the only thing that remains constant in even the most awful situations. Hope restores Love when Fear has taken over.

Hope restores love

But does Hope have an Achilles heel?  And if so, what is Hope’s kryptonite?

After more tragedies in the world last week, I saw a friend post a quote on social media, and I had to pause to take it in:

“Apathy and indifference are the nails in the coffin of hope and change.” – Morley

The late Elie Wiesel said something similar:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

I had to really think about this. Are apathy and indifference the poisons that kill Hope? I wanted to write about it on that day in order to really explore my thoughts and beliefs around the topic, but I didn’t. Instead, I allowed it to simmer on a back burner as I processed the depth of its simplicity.

And then I wrote a totally different piece about my personal life and the struggle I have been facing with regard to my father’s stroke on its 10-year anniversary. (You can read it here.) That piece generated a lot of feedback, love, and support. More than I expected. But it wasn’t until I re-read it that I realized I had described the very scenario that I had simmering on a back burner.

When resignation starts to take hold, hope starts to hibernate.

Resignation, in my opinion, is a form of acceptance without choice. It’s forced. Perhaps because it’s forced, it becomes easier to adopt an attitude of indifference. In some ways, indifference can feel protective. But in other ways, it’s the indifference that opens the door to apathy. And yes, now that I’ve let it marinate for a while, I believe apathy is the antidote to Hope.

I think if Hope were in a petri dish and you doused it with indifference, it would weaken, but not dissolve. However, as the indifference grows it becomes apathy, and apathy has the potential to neutralize Hope. Kill it? No. I don’t believe so, because I think Hope is the Tardigrade of the energy world. But arrest it and prevent it from fulfilling its potential? Yes.

Why does this matter?

I think it’s important that we remember the role Hope plays in times of survival. I hold a view of life that we are always living in one of three ways:

Survive
Live
Thrive

When we are in survival mode, Hope is more important than ever. This does not mean that we diminish and trivialize what’s going on around us by optimistically (blindly?) saying “Love will win” whenever tragedy hits.

Rather, it means that we dig down deep into the nitty-gritty darkest recesses of our souls, knowing all the yuck and darkness, and still say: Love will win and then embody what that means. That’s Hope. That’s holding on to Hope, teaching Hope, speaking Hope, and living Hope.

There’s a reason that at the bottom of Pandora’s Box, after all the fear, pestilence, and misery, Hope remained. Hope resides in the darkest places. Hope resides where we need it most, and the only thing that prevents us from accessing it is apathy … turning a blind eye and/or choosing not to care, because it simply hurts too much.

For many of us it has been hurting too much lately. Tragedy, violence, and other senseless acts that go against our nature cause deep emotional wounds in our collective psyche. It’s in these moments that we get to choose how we want to move forward. We can choose Fear which eventually leads to a protective form of apathy, or we can choose Hope. Even when it’s hardest, especially when it’s hardest, I hope we choose Hope.

P.S. If you’ve never heard/seen it before, here’s a great video by an old friend, Shawn Gallaway, on the choice of Love or Fear. May it inspire you.

Resistance, Obstacles, and Making Sense of the Senseless

Last week, in light of the recent tragedies and violence in the US and abroad, I wrote a bonus blog and recorded a video on how we make sense of the senseless. The bottom line, for me, was that we stop trying. It’s virtually impossible to make sense of something that goes against our very nature. Trying to attribute rational thinking to such a problem becomes an endless cycle of frustration, grief, and disconnection.

What we can do, instead, is work to heal the root cause of the senseless actions of others. In this instance, I believe that all violence has its origins in the low-vibration energy of Fear, and fear is taught. Therefore, if we wish to combat senseless violence, we must teach Hope. Hope is a high-vibration energy that directly counteracts fear. (To learn more, you can read the rest of the blog here, or if you prefer, you can watch the video.)

Then, this past weekend, I stumbled across this video by Mingyur Rinpoche. I admit that I clicked on it because of the title, “I’m too lazy to meditate,” because I am too lazy to meditate. Well, I’m not sure if “lazy” is the right word –  but you get what I mean.

In the first few moments of the video, he gives the basic answer that I gave to dealing with the senseless violence: Stop trying. Or in the meditation example, stop fighting the laziness. When you stop pushing against that which is your obstacle, you give your obstacle the room it needs to fall away naturally.

I believe that the body and soul have a natural inclination to homeostasis. I also believe that all the obstacles we face in our lives are our soul’s journey through remembering who we are at our core, and each challenge brings us that much closer to the central truth. Therefore, if our natural inclination is to return to center, and the obstacles are there to assist us in doing just that, it makes sense that our job is to stop resisting the obstacle in order to allow it to teach us what we need so that it can fall away.

Did you catch that? Sometimes, it’s truly as simple as taking a step back and accepting that which we perceive to be in our way. It’s often this basic act of acknowledgment that allows the obstacle to go. 

In the case of being too lazy (tired, overwhelmed, frustrated, scared, etc.) to meditate, as Mingyur says, it’s about taking a step back, accepting the state you’re in, and reframing your perspective to welcome the obstacle into your life, which paradoxically, allows it to go.

I really enjoyed this video, and I hope you will too. I write often about how to create change in our lives, and how awareness and small consistent steps have the most lasting effect. This video describes just that, and for me, it’s perfectly timed. I have been frustrated with my lack of meditation and routine and itching to get back to it. However, my frustration has caused me to feel overwhelmed which has prompted me to not try. Yup – that’s what I said.

Mingyur’s video is a reminder to me that it’s not about trying or perfection, it’s about choice and presence. Five seconds of meditation is still 5 seconds, and five seconds repeatedly will add up and eventually lead to five minutes.

Whether it’s trying to make sense of the senseless, or feeling frustrated over the lack of a routine, it’s the resistance that keeps us stuck.

xoxo,
Martina

Resistance

Using the Back Burner

If you read my contribution to 365 Moments of Grace, you’ll know that I find connection in the shower. There’s something about the flowing water that serves as a great conduit to intuition and clarity. It’s almost as if the water washes away the veil between worlds.

Yesterday was no different. As I stood in the shower, rinsing my hair, I was musing on the many directions my path could take from here, and how I felt rather stuck in a few of them. I lamented the fact that I didn’t have a single passion to pursue with abandon, like an article I had recently read about an Ornithologist. I contemplated all the things that I have been working on, and plan to work on, and I felt understandably overwhelmed. In case you hadn’t noticed, my brain is almost always running, creating, and divining.

In my overwhelm I started down the all-too-common path of dismay. Wondering why my book has received such great feedback and commentary, but hasn’t hit a critical mass yet. Why my numerous certifications and degrees had yet to open that magical door – through which my future becomes assured. In other words, I was feeling discouraged and disheartened that I had yet to find the “magic bullet” of success.

Now, this is something I know all too well, and at my heart, I can honestly say that I know I have been successful. When a reader, client, or audience member shares a story of how my words have impacted their lives for the better, I have been successful. Just one story would make me successful, and I have significantly more than one. So, I know this – and yet…

And yet, I’m human.

I live in a society that has other measurements of success, and while I can be altruistic, I can also recognize that I am human, which sometimes leads to moments of dismay and desire. And so it was in the middle of my shower, with soap bubbles streaming out of my hair that I succumbed to the dismay. And in that moment, these words appeared before me in my mind’s eye:

“Put your energy into that which you want, rather than dismay around that which you haven’t manifested yet.”

dismay and manifesting

The message was clear. Sometimes those things that we’ve already manifested get moved to a back burner on a low simmer, like a slow-cooking sauce. It’s frustrating to have to wait for the results, but oh-so-worth-it in the end, because time made it more delicious.

The question is: Once you’ve deliberately moved your pots to the back burners, what do you do in the meantime?

You focus on something else, trusting that you’ve already manifested that which is in alignment with your soul, and released it to the Universe. If you keep stirring the pot (dismay), it will never become what it’s meant to be. So, you move it to the back burner and let time and the Universe do the rest. Meanwhile, you pull out another pot.

There is no limitation on manifesting. The only limits are those in your own mind. You can have a thousand pots, or one – the choice is yours. And the choice is made by where you put your energy.

P.S. A great BIG welcome to the new subscribers! Thank you for being here and joining in on this journey that we call life. Together, we can make it a little more enjoyable. 🙂

Perspective and Fitted Sheets

I know how to fold a fitted sheet.

This is not something you hear people say often. In fact, it’s usually the reverse (and there seems to be a sort of pride involved in saying that you don’t know how to do this). But I do. I know how to fold a fitted sheet. For me, it’s completely logical and makes sense.

I didn’t always know how to fold a fitted sheet. But I had an inkling on how to do it, and I wanted to be able to do it – so I sought guidance on how to do it, and then I practiced.

Life is pretty much just like this. It flows in a sequence of

  • Curiosity
  • Seeking
  • Guidance
  • Practice
  • Mastery

Ok, that last step implies that I feel I’ve “mastered” folding a fitted sheet, which I have, and also haven’t. Sometimes it turns out wonkier than others. And if we’re being honest, the space between Practice and Mastery includes an infinite number of trial, error, failure, and success steps before we can actually label it as “Mastery.” However, often when we see someone as “successful” or a “Master” of their craft, we forget the numerous and varied steps it took for them to get where they are.

We lose perspective.

And that’s the point.

When I first started writing this post, I thought it would go another way – I thought I’d be discussing the shame I felt for being able to do something that others seem to ridicule because they can’t (we’ll save that for another day). Instead I’m ending up here, discussing the importance of perspective.

It’s the same old saying: Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.

If someone’s pride (couched as humor or ridicule) causes you to feel shame over your gifts or talents, it’s important to step back and take perspective. Your mastery is a result of curiosity, seeking, guidance, and practice. Their pride and ridicule is usually the result of fear, insecurity, and discomfort. One generates results, the other generates disconnection. Which would you choose?

I choose to be able to fold my fitted sheet.

Folded fitted sheet

Folded fitted sheet

Leading or Paving the Way Forward

Isn’t so much of life about reacting to something, rather than creating something anew?

They say there are no more original ideas. I don’t think that’s entirely true, but I think it’s mostly true. I read the words of poets that are hundreds of years old, and I hear their words echo through the ages in more contemporary authors. Several years ago, in a very vulnerable moment riddled with self-doubt, I once shared with someone who I consider to be part friend, part teacher, and part counselor that I didn’t think I had any hope of a future in writing or inspiring others. I told him I had nothing to contribute to the conversation about self-help that hadn’t already been said.

My friend wisely listened, and then told me this:

“It’s not what you’re saying that’s new – it’s how you’re saying it that’s unique to you.”

He went on to explain that someone out there needed to hear what I had to say in my words, my voice, in order to understand it and hear it for the first time, after not hearing it so many other ways.

I know this to be true, because every week I receive feedback from my readers reiterating what my friend had said so many years ago: They needed to hear what I wrote, and often felt it was written just for them.

This is why I do what I do – this is why I will always do what I do and honor who I am, my path, and my gifts, as they unfold and present themselves more boldly.

But what happens when I sit down to type and the words simply don’t flow?

Last week I wrote about my hope to live more fully aligned with all I am, including my spiritual gifts. I wrote about how easy (and deceptive) it was to play small, without realizing I was doing it. Then I sat down to write for this week, and I stared at a blank screen and an endlessly flashing cursor.

Where do I go from here?

I’m not sure. And that’s the simple truth of it all. There’s this thing called a “visibility hangover” that happens after you’ve put yourself more “out there.” As I’ve learned from my dear friend, Sarah, in her marketing course, after every expansion comes a natural contraction.

Frankly, I think that’s what’s happening this week for myriad reasons. I’m contracting, going within, to regroup, clarify, and clear out some mental and emotional clutter to make a bolder, more structured path forward.

So, I guess, for me, the answer to the blinking cursor is simply: write. Write anything. Just write. See what comes out. See where it leads you.

Sometimes you have to let the path lead you, rather than trying to pave it yourself.

IMG_4966

And that’s pretty much it for this week. Last week several of you were kind enough to tell me you were looking forward to watching, learning, and understanding how this “roadmap of greatness” I mentioned last week would unfold. I thank you. I am, too.

I think, in general, I’ve been hesitant to share too much of my journey as it is unfolding. I often write once I’ve understood, vetted, and embodied something for a while, desiring only to impart the knowledge I’ve gained along the way in the hope that it will help others.

And yet, here we are. Everything you’ve read in this blog post has been a complete surprise to me. It’s raw, real, and very much not vetted.

That being said, I think it’s ok, even good, to not always have understanding. Sometimes it’s important to share the process by which the understanding was obtained. Sometimes it’s important to let the path lead you forward, trusting that it will unfold as it’s meant to. I am doing just that.

Perspective Is A Choice (and how it can improve your life)

Lately I’ve been using the hashtag #perspectiveisachoice when posting some updates on social media. It was a phrase that sort of appeared in my lexicon as I shared some challenges I had experienced that resulted in my choosing to think differently.

In other words, through these frustrating situations, I consciously chose to remember grace and gratitude, which made the events less frustrating. My awareness was raised to the point of acceptance and understanding, which then allowed me to remove myself from the situation emotionally, and regain my power from a position of neutrality. As you know, I believe neutrality is the most powerful tool in your toolbox.

That being said, as I wrote about and shared my anecdotes of frustration from a place of perspective, I found myself immersed in peace. It was as if I could empathize with the circumstances, but my emotions weren’t held hostage by them. It was from that space that the hashtag was born.

Once I wrote the words, however, it cemented home the truth and reality of the statement:

Perspective is a choice.

IMG_4028

It is always within our control to shift our perspective. In fact, we do it often without much consciousness at all. Which prompts me to wonder what would happen if we consciously chose to shift our perspective, especially when we’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. The small act of consciously choosing our perspective could make quite a difference in the overall quality of our lives. I know it is for me.

How Non-Attachment Enhanced My Birthday

Last week was my birthday, and it was one of the best I’ve celebrated in a long time for many reasons, but especially this:

I practiced non-attachment.

Everything throughout the day was a gift. The text from an old friend? A gift. The call from across the pond? A gift. Three small celebrations with family and friends? All gifts.

Absolutely everything in my day was filled with joy, because I wasn’t attached to any of it. I was in a space of non-attachment, and non-attachment allows you to move through life with more grace and ease than practically anything else. 

So what is non-attachment?

To begin with, let’s identify what it’s not. It’s not detachment. Detachment still requires there to be something else to detach from. Non-attachment has no such requirement. Detachment is a response to something, non-attachment just is.

Non-attachment isn’t the same as not caring, however. Non-attachment is about not having an investment in the outcome. It’s a process of divestment, in which the object is not just no longer a focus to be for or against, but there is no object. Non-attachment is about transcending expectations to arrive at a place with no suffering, because there’s nothing to react to or push against or for.

Everything just is. 

If I had not been practicing non-attachment, like in years past, I would have wondered where certain texts, calls, or cards were and why I had or had not received them by now. I would have been mired in the story my brain made up about the situation, rather than simply not creating a situation to begin with. In making up stories about why, I would have been stuck in a cycle of expectation and suffering.

Instead of creating stories and situations, I chose not to invest my time or energy into these questions or anything related. I went through my day and saw every incoming birthday wish as a bonus. There was nothing to push against, there was only the open arms of receptivity to what is. And as a result, I had one of the best birthdays I’ve had in a while, filled with love and celebration.

I’m not saying non-attachment is easy (there were one or two “why haven’t I heard from x yet?” thoughts that popped up). But I am saying that a practice of non-attachment makes life easier. It also opens us up to greater possibility for joy, creativity, and innovation, because we have freed up significant mental and emotional real estate in our minds and in our time… and those are probably the best gifts of all.

Your Way, My Way, and Any Which Way

My friend and fellow author, Brian E. Miller, had this meme posted on his Facebook wall over the weekend.

Nietzsche-Way

I had heard this Nietzsche quote before, but had not remembered it. So, seeing it again was both refreshing and inspirational. As someone who helps other people for a living, either through my coaching or my writing, this simple truth can’t be stated enough:

There is no one way.

I’ve seen it time and again with my clients, as well as in my personal life. What works for me may not work for you, and what works for you may not work for me

In fact, research is basically based on this principal. Only when something works for a statistical majority, is it considered evidence-based. But even in those cases there are always outliers.

So, how do we figure out what works best for each of us as we meander through on this journey of life?

I would suggest that there are three basic criteria that you can use to assess the “thing” that you are trying out to see if it’s in alignment.

1. It makes you feel better/alive/happier/aligned, effortlessly. By answering the question: “How does it make you feel?” you get to identify a tangible result. If something you’re trying doesn’t positively impact your life in some noticeable way, perhaps it’s not the best fit right now.

2. You feel drawn to it. This is about intuitive knowing. some people are drawn to meditation, others are drawn to yoga, still others are drawn to boxing or running. These are all examples of a physical nature, but you get the idea. There’s a voice inside you that says, “Yes! That!” whenever you think about this thing. (Similarly, the voice feels repelled by other things. It’s good to be aware of both sides of this coin.)

3. You want to make time for it. It’s one thing to feel good about something, and even more so if you feel compelled in some way, but actively pursuing something is a HUGE statement of alignment. Making time for something or someone is like highlighting, underlining, and putting an exclamation point on the statement. It’s your body and soul’s way of signing up and showing up.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind everyone (myself included) that if rationalization or justification are involved, we’re not actually in alignment. In other words, I love cake (yellow cake with fudge frosting, to be exact. Yum!), but if I were to use the criteria and say that

a) it makes me feel good (it does, cake makes me happy),

b) I desire it (see previous statement about happiness), and

c) I actively seek it out (well, in grad school I did),

I could then rationalize that it must be in alignment and therefore, good for me… and have it every day. Or I could justify having it more often than I should, based on these criteria. And that would simply be wrong. (Furthermore, if I had it that often, I probably wouldn’t feel good or desire it after a while, so it would ultimately fail the criteria test.)

You can see what I’m saying, right? To better understand the concept, let’s look at it in a more concrete way, using two examplesYoga and hot water with lemon and honey.

– Both yoga and my morning hot water with lemon and honey make me feel good. (criteria 1)

– I wake up and actually want to have my hot water with lemon and honey every morning. My body desires it. Yoga, less so. (Criteria 2)

– Every morning, I make my hot water with lemon and honey and enjoy it before I do anything else. I haven’t been to a yoga class in almost 6 months. (Criteria 3)

From this example, I am nurturing my body with hot water, lemon, and honey daily, because it’s what it needs at this time, which is very clear. In fact, just last year I tried to do this same thing with no success. At that time, this wasn’t what I needed. Today it is.

This is why there is no one way – there is only the way that is right for you, right now. 

Many people would probably tell me to “just go to the yoga class” because “you’ll feel better.” Thankfully, I don’t listen to those people anymore, and I surround myself with friends and wellness experts who get it and support the innate wisdom of my body and my soul as it expresses itself over time.

That being said, I’m also always open to new things that will enhance my life, which actually might be Criteria #4:

Once you have something that is working for you, don’t do it to the exclusion of trying other things that might also work. 

You just might love kick-boxing, guitar, or Paleo, but you’ll never know unless you try and then ask yourself those three questions after you have given it a go.

At the end of the day, the most important question to ask yourself, though, is simply:

Why?

Why am I doing this thing or that thing? Is it for myself or for someone else? Is it because I’m basing my self-worth on it, or because I enjoy it? Is it something I want to do, or something I feel I “should” do?

We all have things we need to do to live. I’m not talking about those things. I’m talking about the things that invite us to thrive. What are they? And how are you going to choose to bring more of them into your life?

Bridging the Gap

Relationships can be tricky. Whether it’s a work relationship, a romantic relationship, a friendship, or family, they can all be fraught with ups and downs. At their best they are sustenance for our souls, bringing joy, love, and possibility into our daily existence. At their worst they can be wholly debilitating and create opportunities for pain, doubt, and fear. And yet, living without relationships is virtually impossible, unless you are a hermit or recluse.

So, how do we manage the ups and downs of the relationships in our lives with grace and ease, optimizing them for success and possibility?

By minding the gap.

mind_the_gap-logo

I admit I’m an Anglophile, so the mere fact that I can use this phrase in an InspireBytes™ blog makes me giddy, but it’s also very very true.

Why does the British rail system employ such a simple phrase for such a potentially devastating problem? In my opinion, it’s because it’s not about changing the gap, or changing the rail system, or changing the person waiting for the train – it’s about changing the awareness and interaction with the existing situation.

Mind the Gap.

This means that you are being asked to take note of the distance between the two items in relation to each other: the platform and the train. If you don’t raise your awareness to the gap, you could fall in and get seriously hurt (the worst of relationships), or you could successfully navigate the chasm and find yourself on your way to your destination (the best of relationships). It’s all up to you and your sense of awareness.

Now let’s apply this to our interpersonal relationships.

In every relationship there is always more than one truth. Each person has their own truth, and all are valid just like the platform and the train are both valid in their existence. Neither is “more right” or “more wrong” than the other. Both are valid. It’s the distance between them, or the gap, that creates the divide.

Therefore, the key to addressing conflict in relationships is to identify the distance between the truths, and focus on how best to bridge the gap.

Gaps in relationships, between two or more truths, are bridged by taking deliberate steps involving honest and open communication in a mutually respectful environment. Gaps are not bridged by trying to change the nature (thoughts, beliefs, actions) of the other party.

Action is necessary, but it all starts with recognizing there is a gap… and minding it.

 

The Importance of Discernment and Taking Pause

This week I want to share an experience with you that I had just a few days ago, and why it reminded me of the importance of discernment and taking pause – especially online. It’s actually a bit long, so I’m trying something new. Here are the practical highlights from the story. (If you want to read the full story in context, it will follow.)

  • Generalized or sweeping statements (especially if they’re extreme), about any segment of the population or subject, are often not based in data and facts. They are a tool used to underscore someone’s opinion.
  • Engaging someone who only wishes to argue and prove their opinion is “right” is a waste of energy. Use your energy elsewhere to create positive change.
  • Practicing discernment is part of self-care. Knowing when to engage is just as important as knowing how to engage.
  • Taking pause before speaking allows you to assess how best to engage.
  • Attacking someone based on their opinion or manner of speech is still an attack and proves worthless in the end. Using facts and data to rebut a generalized claim is a healthy approach.
  • Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. Everyone is not entitled to spread lies based on their opinion. Knowing and understanding this difference is important.
  • Practicing discernment and taking pause is a key component of healthy connection, both with others and with ourselves, especially in heightened emotionally-reactionary situations.
  • Never underestimate the power of choice and the role it plays in the quality of your life.

That’s it. That’s the basis of the story. But if you want the context, and to know what actually happened and how I handled it, then read on. Plus, there’s a great new announcement at the end of the email that I am tickled to share with you! xo

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THE FULL STORY

I was on Facebook, and a friend had shared a political article. It was about Muslims or refugees, the specific details don’t matter with what I am about to relate. In the comments to my friend’s post, a person (unknown to me) shared her opinion on Muslims in America. Actually, she shared her opinion on Muslims around the world.

She made some sweeping generalized statements that are unverified, such as “none of them (the non-violent Muslims) are speaking out” about the violence and terrorism, “which means they condone the actions,” none of which were based in facts or research.

I had two options.

  1. Reply to her comment and provide actual facts with regard to her statements, or
  2. Stay silent.

Lately, with the escalation in hate-speech and fear-based language that I have seen bantered about so freely on the internet, I have chosen to disengage somewhat in order to preserve some measure of my own sanity. For me, it’s Self-Care 101: Be Discerning. My discernment meant being much more in control over my online presence, both in what I was posting, but also what I was reading.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about this, actually. She had read the comments on a thread and became immediately disheartened with humanity. I can relate. So, I told her that I have done my best to only read those types of things when a) I am in a good emotional place and can practice discernment, and b) when I feel like I need to take a measurement of things. In other words, when I want to get a temperature of the emotional climate.

In last week’s instance with regard to this woman’s extreme statements, I was in a good place, and it was a friend’s thread so I read the comments. Subsequently, I chose to respond.

I did not attack the woman. Attacking serves no purpose, and it’s the fastest way to assure that your argument will not be heard. Nor did I attack her values and opinions – they’re hers. Who am I to judge? However, I did decide to correct her on facts, which I think was important.

Where she made sweeping statements not based in fact, I offered data and examples. I shared how I located this information, and suggested that the blame for the lack of widespread knowledge of such (which she had placed elsewhere) resides more with the mainstream media, who seem to choose to focus on the sensational.

Specifically, I mentioned one example of non-violent Muslims speaking out against violence and terror using the campaign Not In My Name to refute her claim that “none of them are speaking out.”

I am sharing this story for two reasons:

  1. We all have choice. Always. It’s one of the basic premises of what I teach. The power of choice directly impacts your life. One of the ways in which to strengthen the power of choice is by practicing discernment. As I said, at other times I have also chosen not to say anything in response to some inciting statements. I have discerned when I think it is appropriate, based on whether or not I can meaningfully contribute. (In other words, if someone just wants a fight, engaging them in that process is often a waste of energy.) I call it seed planting. That also means that I don’t have a specific expectation or investment in the outcome. My goal is to share truth where there are lies, hope where there is fear, and give it time to take root. If I am able to do that, I have done well.
  2. How we choose to engage matters. As I mentioned, if we are employing the same fear-based or emotionally reactionary tactics that we are responding to, then we are perpetuating the situation and potentially escalating it. This holds true whether it’s politics or personal relationships. Reacting from a place of shame, blame, or attack inevitably results in further breakdown.

In this example, I was worried that I would end up in some back and forth with this woman, which caused me some distress until I reminded myself that I get to choose to engage or not. Discernment.

In the end, she actually deleted her comments, which also deleted my reply. I can speculate about what that means, but I am choosing not to. My hope, however, is that I planted some seed of truth that will cause her to pause before making generalizations against any segment of humanity going forward.

And that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it? That we practice discernment, choose to take pause before we speak, and ask ourselves a simple question: Is this true? And if we can’t answer it with 100% certainty, I would hope that it would prompt more research, thought, and discussion.

In this day and age of reactionary armchair politics and vicarious virtual reality, we have all but removed discernment and taking pause from our interactions. Yet, it’s this power duo that actually allows us to connect, not only with one another, but, perhaps more importantly, with ourselves.